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Pistons vs Trail Blazers preview: Two All-NBA talents meet in Portland

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NBA: Detroit Pistons at Portland Trail Blazers Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

After wins against the Toronto Raptors (sans Kyle Lorwy), Los Angeles Lakers (sans LeBron James), and Phoenix Suns (sans plan), the Pistons will once again look to win against a team missing a major piece tonight in Portland. The Portland Trail Blazers are down CJ McCollum, who was diagnosed with a popliteus strain in his left knee after a game against the San Antonio Spurs, but that doesn’t make them any less lethal.

Game Vitals:

When: March 23, 2019, 10:00 p.m. EST
Where: Moda Center, Portland, OR
Watch: NBA TV

Analysis:

CJ McCollum is down. All that has done for the league is fully unleash Damian Lillard on an unsuspecting populace. In his two games since the McCollum injury, Dame is averaging 31 points and 13.5 assists, shooting 47 percent from three, and the Blazers are 2-0.

I mean, look at this insanity:

This isn’t Devin Booker’s empty calories: Dame’s a legitimate All-NBA threat who will eviscerate the Pistons if the display the lackadaisical defensive temperament they’ve had in their last two games.

On the other hand, Detroit’s All-NBA threat, Blake Griffin, hasn’t been his usual massively productive self in the month of March. Blake is “only” averaging 18 points, six rebounds, and five assists in the month of March, and shooting 31 percent from three. Maybe’s it’s Blake’s offensive load being lessened (he’s somehow under 15 shots a game in March, but is averaging 18 on the year). Maybe it’s that he hasn’t played 70+ games since 2013-14, and tonight will be game 69 for Blake with three(ish) weeks to go. Whatever it is, the Pistons will need Blake to play better than he has the rest of this month to beat the Trail Blazers.

Last, but certainly not least, the Moda Center has been good to Reggie Jackson in his career. It’s the site of maybe the quintessential Reggie-Jackson-as-a-Piston game, when he dropped 26 in the fourth and 40 for the game:

For an encore, his thirty-point performance to help drag Detroit to a double-overtime win (FORM A WALL, BOBAN):

Will we get another classic Reggie Jackson performance tonight? Sound off in the comments.

Projected Lineups:

Detroit Pistons (37-34):
Reggie Jackson, Wayne Ellington, Bruce Brown Jr., Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond

Portland Trail Blazers (44-27):
Damian Lillard, Jake Layman, Maurice Harkless, Al-Farouq Aminu, Jusuf Nurkic

Prediction:

Portland 123, Detroit 116