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3 in the Key - Raptors' Game-Day Preview vs Pistons

As the Raptors head into mid March, they take on the Detroit Pistons who have just a slightly better record than the Raptors.  With the Pistons not playing much defense, it may not take much for our local boys to come out with a win in the Motor City.

Ahh, there's nothing like March Break.

Getting to work isn't as much of a crowd thanks to the reduction of kids on the bus lines.  There's even time to play some NBA Jam on your iPhone since you can get a seat.  You can even get home in a timely fashion to catch the NBA and March Madness games every night.

For Raptors fans, this is a time when they have a lot to process.  Figuring out which prospects are going to be the perfect compliment to our young core is practically a full time job, and there's still the continued development of the players we already have.

We might not be making the playoffs, but at least there are things to look forward to and our team is primed to make changes in the off season.

I mean, at least we aren't the Pistons.

Detroit currently has Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva locked in for the next two seasons and has a boatload of areas where the team needs to be improved upon or fixed, not the least of which may be finding a replacement for Tayshaun Prince.

That's a lot of salary locked into three questionable players and a whole lot of needs to fulfill in an off season.

I'd much rather be a Raptor fan right now.

In any case, if the Raptors hope to win, they'll need to be better for one night.  Whether it's in the team's best long-term interest is debatable, but it's not something I'd care to explore.  For now, if the Raptors hope to win, they'll need to exploit the Pistons in these key areas:

1) Play some defense cause Detroit sure won't:  How bad are the Pistons defensively?  They're worst in the league at opponent's field goal percentage.  That's right.  Detroit. Once the stalwarts of defense in the league have no defense to speak of.  However, the Raptors shouldn't push their luck.  When it comes down to it, Detroit should be easily exposed, while our own team is younger and faster.  There really shouldn't be any excuses for us to lose the defensive battle.

Certainly, we should be able to show up Detroit's 48.4% defensive field goal percentage.

2) Go inside, go often: Detroit is also dead last in blocked shots.  Is it that surprising?  I mean, Tayshaun Prince has been playing a heckuva lot of power forward for the team.  I fully expect guys like James Johnson and DeMar DeRozan to eat through Detroit and get to the rim at will.  If the Raptors fall in love with the jumper, it may be a close game, but with how Detroit is playing, I expect the Raptors' coaching staff to tell everyone to keep hammering the middle.

And with 44 rebounds in three games, Reggie Evans should be the first one in getting us second chance opportunities if we forget about going inside.

3) Get more possessions: Speaking of rebounds.

Guess who's last in rebounds? That's right, Motown's own.  Defensive and Total Rebounds are dead last, but to Detroit's credit, they take very good care of the ball and are best at keeping turnovers low.

For the Raptors, it means they have to squeeze every rebound and get every possession they can.  With James Johnson anchoring the small forward position and Reggie Evans a part of the team again, it shouldn't be too much of a request.