If you think the Detroit Pistons and tanking belong in the same sentence, I’m not quite sure what you would call what the Portland Trail Blazers are doing since the NBA Trade Deadline. New coach Chauncey Billups has had to plumb the depths of his roster and the G League in order to field a team on a nightly basis. The Blazers have lost 10 of 11 and the team’s 31-point(!) loss to the 25-win Indiana Pacers(!!!) featured a starting lineup of Trendon Watford, Josh Hart, Drew Eubanks, Brandon Williams and CJ Elleby. I like Josh Hart, but he shouldn’t be leading your team in several significant offensive categories.
When: 7 p.m. ET
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons -7.5 per Draft Kings
The Blazers are 7.5-point underdogs against the lowly Pistons because they are barely fielding an NBA roster. The following players are listed on the Blazers’ injury report — Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons, Jusuf Nurkic, Nassir Little, Justise Winslow, Eric Bledsoe, Joe Ingles, Didi Louzada.
Portland is tied for the worst record in the NBA in the past 11 games at 1-10 (tying the aggressively tanking Thunder) and have both the league’s worst offense and worst defense in that span. Even as the Pistons have played better lately, they have still display some pretty bad basketball on a nightly basis. But they are 5-6 in their past 11. Their -0.9 net rating pales in comparison to the -23.1 sported by the Blazers which is nearly 10 points per 100 possessions worse than the next-worst team (Thunder again) in the league.
It’ll be hard for Detroit to not come out of this game with a victory. So if you accept a meaningless victory against a team that isn’t even really trying what can you look forward to? Well, there is always the Cade Cunningham show, and maybe he can really push the gas against an overmatched opponent.
There is also the matter of Jerami Grant. Detroit’s veteran leader and highest-paid member of the team was sought after by the Blazers at the trade deadline, and recent reports indicate the Blazers will pursue him aggressively this offseason. Portland will likely have New Orleans’ first-round pick available to offer and that would make them extremely competitive bidders for Grant’s services.
Seeing the tanking implications of the game and the fact that even resting Grant after his 40-point burst against the Cavs, Detroit is likely to win, the Pistons are being mindful and sitting Grant tonight. Other Pistons likely to be donning street clothes tonight include Cory Joseph (rest), Kelly Olynyk (ankle), Hamidou Diallo (finger), Frank Jackson (back), and Chris Smith (knee).
Detroit Pistons (19-52)
Killian Hayes, Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Marvin Bagley III, Isaiah Stewart
Portland Trail Blazers (26-44)
Brandon Williams, Josh Hart, Drew Eubanks, Trendon Watford, CJ Elleby
Question of the Game
What’s Cade Cunningham’s statline look like at the end of the game?