The Detroit Pistons have won four of seven games, and suddenly people are afraid the team is winning too much. Sure a couple extra losses would provide a little cushion in the tank battles to come. Tonight, though, there is likely less reason to worry. The Portland Trail Blazers are not the Sacramento Kings. And neither is tomorrow’s opponent — the Los Angeles Clippers, who the Pistons have the fortune to play twice in a row.
The Blazers are far from a perfect team, and they are going to need to figure something out on the defensive end if they actually want to advance far into the playoffs. But tonight it’s Dame Time. And do you really think Damian Lillard is going to let Portland fall to Detroit?
When: 10 p.m. EST
Where: Moda Center, Portland, Oregon
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +12
First, three bits on the team’s health. Jerami Grant sat out the game against the Kings with a sore right knee. The injury is apparently not serious, but Grant will miss tonight’s game against the Blazers. Next is Killian Hayes. Detroit’s rookie point guard played quite well against the Kings but midway through the fourth quarter he seemed a bit hobbled.
He had an irregular gait as he walked to the sidelines and immediately walked to the corner of the Pistons’ bench area speaking to a coach and a trainer. He was flexing and stretching his legs. It was a cause for concern to be sure.
But Killian is apparently fine. He practiced on Friday, according to coach Dwane Casey, and should be able to suit up tonight. Crisis averted.
Finally is Mason Plumlee. The Pistons big man suffered a head-to-head collision with Saddiq Bey in the loss to the Denver Nuggets and missed the Sacramento game because he was in the concussion protocol. He has to go through a series of tests before he is cleared, and there is no indication whether he will be able to suit up tonight. He is officially listed as questionable.
The Blazers, meanwhile, will be without their top two big men. Zach Collins has been out for a while, but the team is sitting out the recently returned Jusuf Nurkic for injury management.
Medical report over. What else is there? Well, the Blazers might be a little angry.
They are coming off two huge measuring stick games against the Clippers and Jazz and came up short in both. The Blazers backcourt really struggled against the Jazz, with Lillard and CJ McCollum combining to shoot 16-of-42. Dame also struggled against the Clippers with a 2-for-14 showing.
Again, do you really think he’s going to let his team drop a game to the Pistons? I think it’s more likely he takes some building frustration out on an easily overmatched opponent.
Detroit Pistons (16-36)
Dennis Smith Jr., Cory Joseph, Josh Jackson, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart
Portland Trail Blazers (30-21)
Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Norman Powell, Robert Covington, Enes Kanter
Question of the Game
Who is the bigger Pistons killer — Damian Lillard or Norman Powell?