The Portland Trail Blazers (28-18) have won the first three games on their current four-game road trip and are looking to keep the streak alive when they visit the Detroit Pistons (13-33) Wednesday.
This will be the first of two meetings between Portland and Detroit this season. The second game is scheduled for April 10.
Last season, Portland won the only game between the two, defeating Detroit 107-104 at Moda Center on Feb. 23, 2020.
In the win, CJ McCollum led the Trail Blazers with 41 points nine rebounds and 12 assists while Christian Wood finished with 26 points, four rebounds and four assists in the loss.
Detroit is led by Jerami Grant this season, who is averaging 22.6 points. The Pistons hold a 8-13 record at home, but are 1-6 in games decided by less than 4 points.
The Pistons have listed Sekou Doumbouya (head; migraine) as questionable for Wednesday’s contest. Wayne Ellington (right calf) is doubtful and Killian Hayes (right hip), Rodney McGruder (right elbow; sprain), Jahlil Okafor (left knee; surgery) and Dennis Smith Jr. (right lumbar spine; soreness) are out.
Ahead of Wednesday’s game, our Trail Blazers Insider Dwight Jaynes poised this question about the Trail Blazers: Could a team flip that narrative of 'Defense wins championships?' --
Portland is 10 games over .500, 14-9 at home and 14-9 on the road. All of that bodes well for the Blazers if the additions of Norman Powell and Jusuf Nurkic down the stretch of the season provide a lift. Certainly the Portland offense, already very good, should be even better.
But the West is a test, make no mistake.
The top six teams in the West, including Portland, have all won at least two games in a row and all but the injury-plagued Lakers have won at least seven of their last 10 games.
Things are heating up.
And it’s a strange year -- a unique season. It's a season with arenas either devoid of fans or with a limited amount of spectators. And then there are players sitting out due to COVID-19 or contact tracing.
Seriously, who would have projected Utah and Phoenix to be the top two teams in the conference?
But defense is the obvious reason those teams sit atop the West.
The Lakers still have the best defensive rating in the NBA. Philadelphia, the leaders in the East, are second while Utah and Phoenix are third and fourth.
Denver, tied with Portland for fifth, is No. 19 in defensive rating and the Trail Blazers are sitting at 29th, a neighborhood where they have been all season.
How has Portland risen so high without a dependable defense?
The Trail Blazers’ offensive rating is sixth in the league. But, beware, the Nuggets’ offense ranks third.
Portland has won a lot of close games, but those narrow decisions often move toward the .500 mark as the sample size enlarges, mainly because of the randomness of such situations. On the other hand, Damian Lillard is a proven closer responsible for a lot of those close wins.
The question, then, is what can we expect from the Trail Blazers as the season moves toward its conclusion?
The old cliché is, “Defense wins championships.” And you can go back through history and not find any poor defensive teams winning an NBA title.
Read more here.
The Blazers are -7.5 point favorites against the Pistons, odds provided by our partner PointsBet.
Here’s what you need to know about Wednesday’s matchup –
- CJ McCollum's 41 points against the Pistons last season tied a season-high in 2019-20, and his 12 assists were a career-high. It was his first career-game with at least 40 points and 10 assists.
- Carmelo Anthony added 32 points (11-16 FG, 5-9 3-PT, 5-6 FT), four rebounds and one assist against Detroit on Feb. 23, 2020. It was his fourth career game with 30+ against the Pistons.
- Damian Lillard has scored at least 20 points in 11 of his 14 career games against Detroit, including each of his last nine. Lillard holds career averages of 22.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.9 assists against the Pistons, with his 5.3 boards being his highest average against any team.
- In four games against the Trail Blazers in 2019-20 while with the Nuggets, Jerami Grant averaged 16.0 points (60.5% FG, 66.7% 3-PT, 54.5% FT), 3.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 0.80 steals. Grant has scored at least 17 points in each of his last three games against the Trail Blazers.
POINT SPREAD: -- Trail Blazers: -7.5 (-115) – Pistons: +7.5 (-105)
HOW TO WATCH:
When: Wednesday, March 31
Where: Little Caesars Arena | Detroit, MI
Start time: 4:00 p.m. PT
TV channel: NBCSNW, the official network of the Portland Trail Blazers
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