Preview: 3-3 Blazers vs. (4-1) Detroit

After tomorrow, the Pistons figure to roll in 5-1 to visit Portland. Their only loss was a choke job to the otherwise winless Bulls. Detroit looks to be in fine form.

Stop me if you have heard this one before...the Pistons don't rely on one or two big stars, they use balance to get it done. 4 guys score in double figures, none of them over 19.2 per game. They generate offense with team play and passing...2 guys are averaging 6.8 and 7.0 assists.

Rasheed Wallace is a familiar sight to Blazer fans. Averaging about 16 points and 7 boards, he figures to demolish Frye who seems to score 4 - 6 points a night and then go hide on the bench.

Advantage: Detroit

Power Forward
There was a time when Antonio McDyess was one of the most promising forwards in the entire league, back when he was with the up and coming Nuggets. Injury took its toll and now he is just a well-traveled place holder, though still capable of a big game. Normally he will get 10 - 15 points and do some rebounding. Aldridge, meanwhile, is playing very well. He has to have his confidence boosted by the last 2 games and should come out strong.

Advantage: Portland

Small Forward
Whither Tayshaun Prince? Is he the stud carrying the Pistons on his back and dropping 30+ point nights on people? Or is he the 5 point scorer of a couple nights ago? Both...and neither. Prince knows his role and this year, for whatever reason, he is struggling to mesh with the team. This is very unusual for him and I doubt it will last much longer. Meanwhile, Webster is coming off his worst night of the year. He took just 3 shots, missed half his free two struggling guys. It will be interesting to see which team involves their guy in the offense better. That team has a great shot at the win.

Edge: Even

Shooting Guard
As a general rule, this position is the Blazers biggest advantage. Roy does so many things well. He scores in the mid to high teens, he rebounds, he passes. Even when he runs into a shooting guard who outscores him, his box-score filling performances give him an advantage. The Pistons are one of the few teams that counter with someone who is his equal or perhaps even superior. Richard "Rip" Hamilton might be that guy. Roy and Hamilton have very, very similar stat lines. This should be a very entertaining battle.

Edge: Even

Point Guard
Steve Blake would need to be Brandon Roy to give the Blazers an equal to Chauncey Billups. Billups and Hamilton are pretty much clones of each other. This could be a long night for Blake as both guys he might face are solid, solid defenders.

Edge: Detroit

Detroit does not have anyone particularly explosive...but they have 4 guys who will each get 5 - 10 points, averaging about 33 points per game. Meanwhile Portland has the explosive Jack, the defensive Przybilla, and the up and down Outlaw. It depends on which Portland bench shows up. If Jack unleashes 20 again and Outlaw has his breakout game this could be a huge advantage for Portland. Conversely, if Outlaw gets lost and Jack comes back to earth it could be a huge advantage for the Pistons.

This game could go just about any way. Portland should come in confident and rested. Roy, Aldridge and Webster all need to have big games and they need to score when the opportunity presents itself. Detroit is, as they always seem to be, an excellent defensive team and points might be difficult to come by.

If Portland plays their best game they can run it to 4-0 at home, if they fail to box out and don't pass to the open man, it could be a long night. I will revisit this after the Pistons-Sonics game when I see where the Pistons head is at.

Post-Sonic add: Detroit started fast, almost ran Seattle off the court, then gave it back, letting Seattle tie it with about 2:35 left in the game. Seattle, however, could not finish. Portland can because they have the talent in Roy, Aldridge and Webster to create the easy scoring opportunities they need to at the end of the game. I don't think Billups and Prince will both have the bad games they had against Seattle, but neither will Hamilton have the transcendant game.

Portland should win this one, but it will be a close game.

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