The Detroit Pistons are the owner of the NBA’s longest losing streak — at seven games — and have been in a tailspin of late, with a horrific point margin of -10.06 over their last ten. Things are broken, fans and players alike are frustrated, and discussion on Andre Drummond has shifted to whether the Pistons should bother bringing him back this season.
Still, it wasn’t that long ago that the Portland Trail Blazers were having these same problems. The Blazers had a seven game losing streak of their own in February, finishing 3-9 for the month. Damian Lillard appeared to be regressing, the bench was even more terrible than usual, and Wes Matthews was banged up. Since then, however, Portland have righted the ship, to a certain extent. They’re 4-3 in March, including a 30 point blowout win in San Antonio, and their three losses are by an average margin of less than four points.
One reason for this has been the acquisition of Eric Maynor at the trade deadline. The two point guard lineups that Portland’s been running with Maynor and Lillard have scored in bunches, and despite some turnover issues, Maynor has been an absolutely massive upgrade over league-worst production from the depressing platoon of Nolan Smith and Ronnie Price. It’s been a small sample size thus far, but Maynor’s abilities finally seem to be coming back from the ACL injury that sidelined him for the entire 2011-2012 season.
The Pistons don’t really have a similar bright spot to tout. Khris Middleton has a 44/35/71 shooting line going in March, which isn’t fantastic, but potentially implies some development. Jonas Jerebko is 11-25 from three point range the last two months, which bodes well for the future if it continues. After that, it’s hard to even come up with anything encouraging. Things are dire in Detroit, and it looks to continue that way for the foreseeable future.
If Portland takes this game seriously, they should win easily. Their bench is horrible, even with the addition of Maynor, but they’re healthier, LaMarcus Aldridge will be the best player on the court, and Nicolas Batum is considerably better than anyone the Pistons will trot out at small forward. The Blazers are prone to lapses — they lost to New Orleans within the last week — but it’s hard to pick the Pistons over anyone at this point. Considering how late this game will start, this might be one to skip.