Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 11/26/12
Rip City travels to Motown The Portland Trail Blazers have a legitimate chance at taking down an Eastern Conference foe on the road Monday, but they’ll have to worry about the big men in the middle when they take on the Detroit Pistons. Matchup: Portland (6-7) @ Detroit Pistons (3-11) Venue: The Palace of Auburn Hills Time: 4:30 PM PT Date: Monday, Nov. 26, 2012 The Blazers have struggled in the paint this season, and as a result, they could struggle against Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. Game Notes/How They Match Up Andre Drummond and Damian Lillard are two of the gems from the 2012 draft class If Blazers fans have been frustrated by inconsistent performances this season, just imagine what it must feel like to cheer for the 3-11 Pistons. Detroit has struggled early in the year, and it’s an apparent lack of talent that is keeping them from finding their groove. That being said, they have a young center who is truly coming into his own in Greg Monroe. The big man is the clear-cut go-to option on this team, as he is the team leader in points, rebounds and steals. His only real downside is that he has trouble defending in the key. Portland also has trouble defending down low, but the problem is, they’ve yet to establish a true score at the rim. Monroe’s defense is suspect at this point in his career, but if he has nobody worth defending down low, he can use his energy to attack a Blazers team that will likely struggle to contain his size and strength. What to Watch: Portland The thing to watch when it comes to Portland is how they establish their offense if LaMarcus Aldridge is unable to play. He missed his first game of the season against the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday, and the team was held to their lowest point total of the year. Damian Lillard has become the team’s leading scorer, and he will be put to the test against an ample defender in Brandon Knight. Nicolas Batum is also a solid option to score this season, as he has stepped up his points-per-game average substantially since last year. The Blazers have options on offense, but the key is getting one of them going. If someone can’t take over for Portland, they will make a middle-of-the-road defense look outstanding Monday night. What to Watch: Detroit Detroit hasn’t been a good defensive team this season, but one area where they’ve excelled in is transition defense. The Pistons are a top-10 team this year when it comes to stopping fast-break points, which is going to be an important concept against a Portland team that has struggled to score in transition. Heading into this year, we heard about how the Blazers were going to get out and run, and how their offense was going to shoot quickly and score often. That notion has only been on display sporadically, and as a result, the team finds itself under .500 on the year. Greg Monroe will make up one-half of the key matchup Monday night. (Photo: AP/Duane Burleson) If Detroit allows Portland to get comfortable in transition, it could spell trouble for the home team. However, if they stop them from scoring quickly, they’ll have a better chance of stopping a Portland offense that is still trying to establish scorers deep into its roster. Key Matchup Seeing as how Detroit has very little going for them outside of Greg Monroe, it’s easy to see why he makes up one-half of the key matchup. The problem is, with the potential absence of LaMarcus Aldridge, it’s difficult to say who it will be challenging the Pistons’ big man. The first possibility is Meyers Leonard. If Aldridge is out, that likely means that Leonard is in. The rookie big man has shown flashes of potential throughout the year, but even his own coach has recognized him as a “poor post defender,” (according to CSNNW’s Chris Haynes, h/t Blazers Edge). If Aldridge is in, the assignment goes back to J.J. Hickson. The Trail Blazers’ starting center has shown he can play with the big boys this year, as his 6’9”, 242-pound frame is leading the team is rebounding in just 28.8 minutes per game. Containing Monroe is going to be key in this contest, but challenging him with offense is also important. Whichever Blazer big gets the nod will be responsible for both. Injury Report Portland: QUESTIONABLE—LaMarcus Aldridge Detroit: N/A Prediction The Pistons have a lot of areas to improve early in the year, and while the Blazers could fall under that same classification, they’ll look to take advantage of what Detroit gives them on the road Monday night. Blazers 98 – Detroit 90 CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE BLAZERS BLOG IN OUR CLUBHOUSE TODAY AT NWSB!
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