Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
Toronto looks to avenge Wednesday night's two-point loss to the Detroit Pistons later tonight at the Air Canada Center. Chris Walder previews the action.
It may only be the preseason, but I'm sure Toronto would love nothing more than to get one back after losing a heartbreaker (if you can even call it that as these games don't really matter) against Detroit 101-99 on Wednesday.
The big story of the game was the NBA debut of highly-touted rookie Jonas Valanciunas, who finished the night with 2 points and 2 blocked shots in a little over 13 minutes of PT.
It wasn't exactly a "blow me out of the water" kind of debut, but that wasn't realistic of course. The numbers don't tell the entire story. Jonas was praised by coaches and teammates alike for producing in areas that don't necessarily show up on the stat sheet, such as working in pick and rolls and being in the right place at the right time for offensive/defensive sets.
The important thing to take away from all of that is Valanciunas is now officially on the court for the Toronto Raptors, and the team can now begin the process of integrating him into the teams game plans.
How much more of Jonas will we see later tonight?
Detroit also had a debut of its own, as the number nine selection from this years draft, Andre Drummond, made his Pistons debut, finishing with an impressive all-around stat line of 12 points (on 6 of 8 shooting), 7 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks.
Yes, the Raptors did pass on Mr. Drummond to take Terrence Ross, but I wouldn't start jumping on the bandwagon just yet.
I also wouldn't worry about Ross, who finished with 7 points and 3 boards of his own Wednesday.
There's still a lot of basketball to be played for both players.
So what can Toronto do to sneak out a victory tonight and avoid going 0-2 to Detroit this preseason?
As always, here are your 3 keys to the game....
1) Box out Detroit's Bigs:
Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond were both dominant on the glass Wednesday, combining for 29 points and 17 rebounds (nine of which were offensive boards).
That doesn't even bring into account Drummond and his put-back lay-up with 35 seconds left that essentially won the game.
It's not exactly going to be a walk in the park trying to contain two athletic seven-footers, but Toronto is going to have to at least put up a far better fight down low than they did two nights ago.
Box out, be aggressive and hold your ground. Don't let these two promising giants have their way in the paint and get easy buckets and boards.
2 )Get more effort out of Bargnani
Is it just me, or did Andrea look very lackadaisical last game?
Bargnani finished with just 10 points, 1 rebound and 1 assist in 22 minutes of action. He also went 1 for 3 from behind the arc and a pathetic 1 for 5 from the charity stripe
What's up with that?
Preseason or not, Bargnani can't afford to have performances like this. The effort just isn't there, at least at the moment.
Including Monday's game against Real Madrid, Andrea is now 9 for 27 from the field and 4-11 from the free-throw line these first two games.
Those aren't exactly the most inspiring of statistics from a franchise player who makes a living off of....well.....shooting the basketball!
I'm looking for Andrea to be involved early in the offense and hopefully get a few shots to fall his way. Bad habits can always carry over into the regular season, so it's going to be of the utmost importance for "Il Mago" to regain his form.
3) Continue to defend the perimeter.
Detroit likes to play a rough and tough style of basketball, getting most of it's shot opportunities in the paint.
They ranked 15th in the league last season in three-point percentage at just 34.6%. The Pistons were also 26th in three-point attempts per game at 13.6.
On Wednesday, the team put up a big fat goose egg from beyond the arc, going 0-13 from that part of the court.
Only one player currently on the roster (Brandon Knight) shot better than 38% from three-point range last year.
What that all adds up to is a sign of weakness in the Pistons' game. If Toronto can again hold Detroit to a low percentage from that distance later tonight, it can only help their chances.
Take the Pistons out of their comfort zone. Shooting threes isn't part of the Pistons style. Force them to shoot from 20-25 feet rather than getting a flow going in the paint, and it should bode well for a Raptors' W.
- Lead Editor of "Sir Charles in Charge"