Tonight the Pistons welcome the Toronto Raptors to the Palace for a game at 7:30pm EST. This is the Raptors 2nd to last preseason game and the last for the Pistons.
The Raptors were the 2nd best team in the Eastern conference last year and there is not much reason to expect that to change. They are anchored by their all star backourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, both of whom are excellent players. Lowry is the most dangerous off the bounce 3 point shooter this side of the Mississippi, DeMar has an old school mid range game and draws tons of fouls. Lowry is a good defender, DeMar not so much but he isn't bad. Down low Jonas Valanciunas is a very skilled scorer and has grown a lot on defense, DeMarre Carroll is back on the wing and is a excellent 3 and D type of player, and a guy that should give a big time boost to the team if he stays healthy. And Patrick Patterson is likely to receive most minutes at PF, he is mostly a stretch 4 who also plays hard on defense.
Beyond that, Jared Sullinger is trying to revive his career in Toronto, Terrence Ross is coming off the bench and is a shameless gunner who can really score, Norman Powell is a cult star in Toronto and could be a excellent guard, Cory Joseph is still one of the better backup point guards in the business. Obviously it is likely that some of these guys won't play.
Matchups to watch: (Once again, some guys may or may not play)
KCP vs. DeRozan/Lowry: For the first time this preseason, KCP should have a good chance to actually defend plenty of ball handlers tonight. I don't know if SVG will be willing to switch Ish onto the wing (likely onto either Carroll or Patterson or anyone else they throw out there) and let KCP guard Lowry, or if KCP will be stuck with DeMar. Either way, he will get do what he does best in enveloping ball handlers more. Which having spent most of the preseason chasing around 3 point specialists will be a welcome change. That said, DeRozan has given KCP some trouble in the past, and last year Morris spent more time guarding him than KCP did, and this will be a decent chance to see if KCP has added enough strength/guile to guard guys who have a size advantage on him. Even if DeRozan gives him some trouble with his size and physicality though, it will be great to watch KCP deny him driving lanes all night.
Tobias AND Baynes vs. Broken noses: Tobias broke his in the last game, Baynes broke his in practice. Both have supposedly been fixed with masks and should play, although they could get held out/play limited minutes just to be safe. Basically it would suck if they got them hurt more to the point that they would miss any actual time.
Ish vs. Turnovers: He hasn't had one in the past 3 games. That is impressive even in the preseason, I wonder if he could keep up the streak.
KCP vs. Not falling into the abyss: KCP caught fire from deep against the Bucks, he has done that before. The problem is that he so often will have a game (or 2 or 3 occasionally) where he catches fire, and then promptly go cold again. Him finding a way to not go on such cold streaks will be important, and even if he doesn't stay red hot, it would be great to see him just go like, 2/5 from 3 tonight or something.
Morris/Stanley vs. Being hurt: Both missed a little time with supposedly minor injuries. It would just be nice to see them look totally fine and confirm that they could have played but didn't just because it is preseason.
Gbinije vs. Saving the world: Apparently SVG agreed with my sentiments after the last game. Saying that over the last week or so Gbinije has looked like the best wing player on the roster. He obviously will need to show that over a longer period of time before he is getting any real playing time, but another strong performance tonight would be another step for him. If he comes crashing down in this game it would be kind of a bummer. So hopefully he can keep up the good work and earn some playing time early in the season.
Lorenzo Brown vs. Last chance: It isn't actually his last chance since there will be a few more days of practice before they decide between him and McCallum, but neither have separated themselves in a major way so far. Currently I would give a slight edge to Brown, but it isn't a big one. If he could turn in a really good game tonight it could solidify his lead, if he has a poor one it could flip McCallum into the lead. If he has another just fine game then it will likely come down to the last few days of practice.
Andre vs. JV: JV has given Andre some troubles in the past with his combination of size, shooting, and touch around the rim. Andre gives him plenty of trouble on the other end as well (JV doesn't guard pick and rolls so good) and either way it should be kind of fun to watch.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Our lord and savior Michael Gbinije
KCP doesn't go 0 for from 3.
Ish doesn't turn the ball over.
Tobias and Baynes look dope in their new masks.
Run for the hills if:
JV is roasting Andre.
Tobias seems helle frustrated by his mask.
Marcus and Stanley look a little bit hobbled still.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Ish turns the ball over. Once.
Marcus and Stanley look fine.
Gbinije looks really good again.
Brown doesn't do anything of much note and the battle for the last roster spot will indeed come down to the last few days of practice.
What do you think? How good is Gbinije? Will Brown win the spot tonight?