Welcome everyone, the day has come. Yes, the day of the biggest Raptors trade story since Kyle Lowry left, but also a game that’s been circled on the calendar for a while now.
The Detroit Pistons, having already set the longest single season losing streak in NBA history, can set a new losing streak record. With a Raptors win tonight, Detroit sets the record for longest losing streak in NBA history.
Currently, the Trust the Process Philadelphia 76ers hold the record at 29 straight losses, which occurred between the end of the 2014-15 season and the beginning of 2015-16.
Before last night, the story of the game was nearly Pizza Party vs Losing Streak. In failing to successfully comeback against the depleted Boston Celtics last night in TD Garden, Toronto failed to win back to back games and the chance for a pizza party starts all over again if they can win tonight.
However, the story shifted again around noon today when the Raptors front office finally made a long awaited roster move. Out goes OG Anunoby, Precious Achiuwa and Malachi Flynn, with Canadian national team member RJ Barrett and guard Immanuel Quickley coming back along with a 2024 2nd round pick.
Whatever your thoughts on the trade and potential starting lineups moving forward, there are only a few certainties for tonight. Those being, that none of Anunoby, Achiuwa, Flynn, Barrett or Quickley will find themselves in the lineup as Toronto visits Detroit.
The newcomers will likely make their Raptors debut on Monday when the team is back home in Toronto. As for who will play for the Raptors tonight and what their impact could be, let’s get into it.
How to Watch:
TSN at 6:00 p.m. ET
Toronto: Dennis Schroder, Gary Trent Jr, Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam, Jakob Poeltl
Detroit: Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Bojan Bogdanovic, Ausar Thompson, Jalen Duren
Toronto: Christian Koloko (Out - Respiratory), Garrett Temple (Out - Ankle) OG Anunoby (Out - Not with team), Precious Achiuwa (Out - Not with team), Malachi Flynn (Out - Not with team) — RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley not yet with team.
Detroit: Isaiah Stewart (Out - Toe), Monte Morris (Out - Quad)
Increased Bench Minutes
Last night we saw Jalen McDaniels go off for a fourth quarter stretch as the Raptors attempted to comeback against the Celtics. With Anunoby and Achiuwa gone, Toronto lacks some size in their bench units and McDaniels provides exactly that.
While he may not be the three point sniper that we saw flashes of last night, his size and frame is very comparable to Anunoby and will likely see quite the uptick in minutes with two rotational pieces out tonight.
Other bench players who need to make use of the extra opportunity: Dennis Schroder and Chris Boucher.
Yes, bench player Dennis Schroder. After finally being removed from the starting lineup for the past two contests, the German guard finds himself right back in the starting PG role tonight.
With Immanuel Quickley incoming, it’s evident that Masai, Bobby and Darko (and the fanbase) are not happy with Schroder’s output, starting or not. Quickley will likely make his way into the starting lineup once available and reduce Schroder’s role, so a big showing is needed tonight against a Pistons team that concedes a lot of points to guards.
On a lighter note, Chris Boucher needs to step up as there are now TWO Canadians in the Raptors rotation. The last time we saw that was with Dalano Banton on the roster. As Boucher is from Montreal and Barrett from Mississauga, the hometown love may be directed away from Boucher sooner rather than later.
Space the Floor
Back to being serious, the Pistons and Raptors are both teams that do not shoot the ball well from behind the arc.
Detroit is so bad at spacing the floor and making threes that tenured NBA coach (and highest paid coach all-time) Monty Williams was making very base level discoveries about his team only a few weeks back.
“I think we’re starting to figure out that we can score if we space the floor properly. I’m learning how to use certain guys on the team."— NBACentral (@TheDunkCentral) December 12, 2023
- Monty Williams pic.twitter.com/SK2NRAaDac
Anunoby was one of Toronto’s most potent shooters, and is now gone forever. McDaniels showed last night he can occasionally hit the deep ball, and we know Chris Boucher has a knack for shooting. Gradey Dick and Otto Porter Jr. are also (supposed to be) known for their shooting prowess and will likely see more time in the rotation tonight. As for the starters, Barnes has had a massive shooting leap this season, Trent Jr. is a very capable shooter, and Siakam and Schroder can both make threes though sometimes on a concerning level of volume.
Even with Isaiah Stewart out, Detroit is a very big team and with Toronto down some size, spacing the floor will be key in avoiding snapping the historic losing streak.
Last but not least, dear god, please don’t lose. We saw Boston being down by almost 20 points to this team at halftime a few nights ago, and they fought like they were back in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final to push it to overtime and pick up the win. There may not be many (if any) play-off or play-in matchups for this Raptors team this season, so play like it is one tonight.
Piston vs Celtics feeling like Game 7 of the conference finals— Ahmed/The Ears/IG: BigBizTheGod (@big_business_) December 29, 2023