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Pistons host Blazers

I'll post some pictures from Friday's DBB Suite Night later today, but for now here's a nifty game preview from Kevin. Ball tips at 3 PM on Fox Sports -- do your thing in the comments. -- MW
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By Kevin Sawyer

Trailblazers: 11-6 (4-6 away)
Margin: +5.1 ppg (2.8 away)
Last 10: 7-3 (margin +11.0)

Pistons: 10-5 (5-2 home)
Margin: +0.9 ppg (+1.0 home)
Last 10: 6-4 (margin -1.9)

Oppo research:

So far, so good for the Blazers, who boast the second best record in the Western Conference. They’re on a roll after dropping the Hornets by 16 on Friday night. Don’t let the road record fool you either; the Blazers are outscoring their opponents by nearly three points per game away from Portland, and have seen little drop-off in production despite a tough road slate.

Coach Nate McMillan uses a deep rotation, with only two starters averaging more than 30 minutes per game. Part of this is a function of necessity – his two centers average 6.4 fouls per game in 44 minutes of play. But Portland has the talent to pull it off. Ike Diogu and coveted rookie Jerryd Bayless have been tethered to the 11th and 12th man spots.

Portland has seen improbable success from a trio of rookies: Greg Oden, Rudy Fernandez and Nicolas Batum. They are also shooting a ridiculous 42% from the three point stripe, and Joel Przybilla is shoot 83% from the field. Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge will keep doing what they do, but a regression to the mean may well be in order. No time like the present, eh?

Still this is a talented team of dangerous shooters, which keeps fresh legs on the court at all times.

Keys for Detroit:

Keep the ball away from the bigs:

For Oden, this means getting him off the court with foul trouble. For Przybilla, this means exploiting his high turnover rate. Rebounding has been a problem for the Pistons, and we can expect these two to easily win that battle, so the goal is to limit their effectiveness in other areas.

Stop the three:

The Pistons are among the league’s best in making teams put the ball on the floor. While some teams have exploited the Pistons’ lack of help defense, Portland doesn’t have the personnel to make Detroit pay at the free throw line. Let Brandon Roy get his, and make the rest of the guys earn it.

Annex the paint

Portland’s interior defenders are tall, but they don’t defend particularly well. Feeding Sheed, Maxiell, Brown and Amir in the post will take Oden out of the game, opening up the lane for Detroit’s dribble penetration.

Question of the game:

Allen Iverson was very productive in limited minutes. While he will almost certainly take back the starting job after a quick hiatus, Michael Curry had to like what he saw between Iverson and Walter Herrmann. Will we see more of Iverson with the second unit?