The Toronto Raptors will be closing out their four-game home stand this afternoon against the Detroit Pistons before heading back out on the road. After dropping their last two games against the Bucks and the Celtics, the Raptors will try to take advantage of an opponent that is only 2-11 on the season, in hopes of bringing themselves back to only a game behind 0.500.
On Friday against Boston, the Raptors were one possession away from redemption after being obliterated by the Celtics in their first meeting. Pascal Siakam and Dennis Schröder both had good individual performances, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to overcome Boston. Friday night was one of several matchups this season that have felt like the Raptors are creating a new trend for themselves. Early in games, it appears as though they are lacking chemistry on the floor and bad possessions put them down by a fairly significant margin. Some of their late rallies have been successful, but it could be pertinent for the Raps to avoid such a large deficit to begin with. What better time to build chemistry and work out some of the issues than against a team with a much worse record?
Detroit has lost their last 10 games now, some of them coming at the hands of floundering teams like Portland and Chicago. It’s not unexpected for them to struggle this season, as growing pains are common with a rebuilding team this young. The Pistons are on the first night of a back-to-back and have been suffering from a bit of an injury bug recently, which will hopefully play in the favour of the Raptors as well.
How to Watch:
TSN, at 4:00 pm ET
Toronto: Dennis Schroder, O.G. Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam, Jakob Poeltl
Detroit: Ausar Thompson, Isaiah Stewart, Marvin Bagley III, Killian Hayes, Cade Cunningham
Toronto: O.G. Anunoby (Probable; Right Finger Laceration), Christian Koloko (Out; Respiratory Issue), Markquis Nowell (Out; G-League Two-Way), Thaddeus Young (Out; Illness)
Detroit: Bojan Bogdanovic (Out; Calf), Malcolm Cazalon (Out; G-League Two-Way), Joe Harris (Out; Sprained AC Joint), Isaiah Livers (Questionable; Ankle Sprain), Jalen Duren (Out; Ankle), Monte Morris (Out; Quadriceps), Killian Hayes (Questionable; Shoulder Sprain), Jared Rhoden (Out; G-League Two-Way)
While this seems like a game that the Raptors should run away with, all things considered, the Pistons have managed to hang around with Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Cleveland recently. There is a surplus of young talent on the roster who have already made improvements from last season. Cade Cunningham’s health is better, and it’s provided the chance to build chemistry between him, rookie Ausar Thompson, and second year guys Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren. To be successful, the Raptors are going to have to beat them on the boards and in the fast break.
The Raptors are 7th in the league in rebounds per game this year, preceded directly by the Pistons by a rather negligible margin, which should create an interesting matchup as far as energy in the paint off of missed shots. They’ll have to keep an eye on Isaiah Stewart who is particularly aggressive on the boards, along with Thompson who is averaging double-digit rebounds. In their most recent game against Cleveland, Detroit was all over the boards, securing second-chance opportunities that the Raptors will have to limit. The Pistons’ offence is 25th in the league, so preventing them from getting any kind of rhythm through hustle-plays at the rim or kick-outs for long-range shots will be important in keeping control of the game.
On the offensive end, continuing their strong performance in the fast break will be an easy way for the Raptors to generate scoring throughout the game. Detroit isn’t very strong defensively as it is (20th in the league in OPPG), an issue that is compounded when they are forced to make quick decisions. Getting back before the defence is set should give the Raps a distinct advantage. The Raptors have also been feasting on paint points recently, which should translate well to this game, as the Pistons have been struggling to guard post ups, pick and rolls, and ally-oops recently, all evident in their recent game against Cleveland. Hopefully this will prove as an opportunity for the Raptors to continue to work on their offensive system, and a chance for Scottie Barnes to finally pull out a win against former Montverde Academy teammate Cade Cunningham.