There isn't a whole lot going on Sunday afternoon in the NBA, but we should take a look at those games regardless. The Blazers and Raptors play an early afternoon game, the Grizzlies travel to Sacramento and the Pistons take on the Lakers in the night game.
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Toronto Raptors; 1:00 ET, League Pass
The Trail Blazers has steamrolled the past week and a half, winning five games in a row and the Raptors are still looking for any sort of identity. Toronto has split its last four games and has played pretty good defense in the process. It is ranked No. 8 in the NBA with a 102.6 defensive rating, per Basketball-Reference.
Portland, on the other hand, is a team cooking on offense. The Blazers have scored over 100 points in six of their first nine games behind 22 and 20 points per game from LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard respectively. Wes Matthews is also having a solid start to the season, scoring 15 points of his own on 54 percent from the field and 50 percent from range.
The Main Course
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Sacramento Kings; 6:00 ET, League Pass
This is one of those main entrees that could pass as a side dish, but it's all we're working with. We'd like to see Warriors-Thunder or Heat-Pacers 82 times a year but the NBA hasn't yet given us that kind of treat, so here we are stuck with two below .500 teams as our Masa Toro with Caviar.
Memphis really hasn't figured anything out in its first nine games. Both its offense and defense, the staple of last year's deep playoff run, is below average and the team isn't rebounding like has over the last few seasons. The Kings are struggling as you might imagine the Kings will do.
The DeMarcus Cousins-Marc Gasol heavyweight bout is the real reason to watch this game. Gasol, last year's Defensive Player of the Year, has stepped back a bit defensively this season but he's still an elite one-on-one post defense. Cousins, conversely is, when he's engaged, nearly unstoppable on the low block. He's averaging career highs in points per game (22.8), blocks (1.9), steals (2) and field goal percentage (48.3).
Detroit Pistons vs. Los Angeles Lakers; 9:30 ET, League Pass
Yes, that's right. Your below .500 Main Course is followed by a below .500 Dessert. The Lakers have lost four of their last five and the Pistons dropped four straight before beating the Kings in Sacramento Friday night. This is what we're working with!
On the bright side for the Lakers, Kobe Bean Bryant is back to practice. Maybe the Lakers will be so inspired by Bryant's return that they go for 115 against the Pistons and Pau Gasol is rejuvenated to an All-Star level? Gasol's had a rough go through 11 games. He's averaging career worsts in points (13.1) and field goal percentage (38.9).
Detroit's been a bit of mystery so far in the young season. Most people assumed that defense, not offense, would be the Pistons' strong point but that hasn't been the case. Conversely, Detroit is ranked No. 10 in offense and No. 29 in defense, via Basketball-Reference. Even with Josh Smith, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, the Pistons are No. 19 in rebounds per game. Maybe it'll take time for the newly added pieces -- Smith and Brandon Jennings -- or maybe this weird roster construction was a disaster in the first place.