Tonight at 7:30 p.m. EST the Pistons will welcome the Toronto Raptors to the Palace. The Pistons are on one day of rest after losing to the Jazz on Wednesday. The Raptors are on the 2nd night of a back to back after getting beaten by the Thunder last night.
The Raptors are real good, and even though their record has fallen back a bit in the midst of some injuries, especially without Kyle Lowry, but they continue to sport one of the best offenses in the NBA with an offensive efficiency of 109.9, and their defensive efficiency has not fallen too far as it stands at a just sort of mediocre 105.7.
Especially with Lowry out, DeMar DeRozan leads the way for the Raptors, averaging 27.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists. He still doesn’t really shoot 3s, and when he does he usually misses, but he is a master of the midrange and getting to the hoop where he draws tons of fouls, but Pistons fans probably don’t need to be reminded of what DeRozan can do. After him, Serge Ibaka is one of the new guys in town, giving them a legitimate starting 4 and he is fitting in pretty well from the start, scoring 13.8 points and blocking 1.8 shots per game and scoring pretty efficiently, they have also had success flexing him to the center spot for stretches. Jonas Valanciunas can score and rebound, and has historically given Drummond fits, but he only plays 26 minutes per game because of his defensive woes, which are significant. DeMarre Carroll has never lived up to his contract, but he is still a scrappy player who can defend and mostly doesn’t kill your offense. Cory Joseph is starting in place of Lowry right now, and while he has not been quite as good as last year, he has mostly still been rock solid as a backup and a serviceable starter when needed (like now). Normal Powell is getting more minutes now that Terrence Ross is gone and he looks pretty good when he is on the floor as a guard who is a super athlete. Patrick Patterson is still a really good stretch 4 who can shoot and defend, P.J. Tucker doesn’t score much be he can defend like hell, Delon Wright is a guard who is decent I guess, but not really worth noting. Jakob Poeltl is big and super young, Fred VanVleet is not nearly as Dutch as his name would suggest.
Matchups to watch:
- Andre vs JV: Jonas has given Andre all kinds of problems in the past, and while Andre can usually give it back just as well on the other end, Andre usually ends up losing out because he gets into foul trouble while JV doesn’t. Andre needs to avoid fouling at the very least, and at best actually stop JV occasionally.
- The backcourt vs Bouncing back: Both of the Pistons starting backcourt have had a pair of really bad games, which is especially frustrating for Reggie after he had strung together several good ones, while KCP has generally been quiet since the all star break. The Pistons will need at least one of them (especially Reggie) to bounce back if they want to start winning again.
- Pistons vs Guarding DeRozan: Dude is a problem for the Pistons. Too big for KCP, too good for Morris. Marcus has done decent at times in the past, but DeRozan has regularly been a problem for the Pistons, and they will need to contain him if they want to win.
- Jon Leuer vs Not being terrible: Terrible is probably too strong a word, but he has really not played well lately. He is barely above 30% from 3, and he looks shook. He needs to get back to his early season form, and quick, because he is hurting the Pistons right now.
So in conclusion…
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
- Andre is outplaying JV.
- Reggie Jackson is back in form.
- The Pistons are doing a good job of locking up DeRozan.
Run for the hills if:
- Andre has 2 fouls 2 minutes into the game.
- DeRozan starts hitting everything he takes.
- The Raptors recently improved defense is stifling the Pistons.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
- Andre doesn’t get crapped on again.
- Reggie and KCP have nice games, not great but just nice.
- DeRozan has a high volume scoring night, but is pretty inefficient.
- The Pistons come out firing and the Raptors come out tired, and the Pistons lead semi-comfortably from start to finish.
- Pistons 107 – Raptors 100.
What do you think? Can the backcourt bounce back? Can Andre avoid foul trouble?