One can and should be forgiven for not quite knowing, by heart, the positioning of the lower seeds in the Eastern Conference at any given time. The top five teams on top, which includes the Raptors (who have never, and likely will never, be lower than number two), are well-established by now. But the bottom three playoff teams? And those squads tumbling through various forms of abject despair below them? Who can say.
Well now, we must say. We must say because the Raptors are in Detroit at this very moment to take on the Pistons. At 30-31 (and in a virtual tie with the Nets), the Pistons currently sit seventh in the East, which puts them right in the line of Toronto’s post-season fire. This is compelling for a few reasons, not least of which is the fact that Detroit’s coach is none other than Dwane Casey, long time Raptors mentor. Is Toronto looking to gain a modicum of satisfaction against Casey after November’s come-from-behind embarrassment of a loss? In truth, probably not; a lot has happened since then. But I know that’s what many Raptors fans are thinking about as we head into tonight’s game.
In the Casey’s defense (one final time!), he is perhaps right to feel slighted by the Raptors. And I for one wonder what he could have done with Kawhi Leonard (who is sitting tonight FYI) and Marc Gasol. But also: anyone who celebrates a regular season win on the road as demonstrably as Casey did back in November deserves to be destroyed on the basketball court. Sorry, I don’t make the rules! It happened to DeMar DeRozan, and now the Raptors will be looking to do it again. Karma balanced, order restored. Let’s watch.
(And as per usual, check out the full preview here from John Gaudes from this morning.)
Where to Watch
TSN 2, 6pm EST
Toronto - Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol
Detroit - Reggie Jackson, Wayne Ellington, Bruce Brown, Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond
Toronto - Fred VanVleet (out - thumb), Kawhi Leonard (out - load management)
Detroit - None!