Tonight the Pistons will be on the road again in Toronto to play against the Raptors at 7:00 p.m. EST. The Pistons are on one day of rest after losing to the Spurs on Friday, and the Raptors have had 3 days of rest after losing to the Timberwolves.
The Raptors are very good and mostly healthy again. Kyle Lowry is one of the most complete point guards in the NBA, DeMar DeRozan is 2 pointer Kobe, Pat Patterson might not play but he is a really good stretch 4 who can play defense. DeMaree Carroll is a really good 3 and D wing. Jonas Valanciunas is very offensively skilled but has some defensive deficiencies. Pascal Siakam is a hustle guy who can finish at the hoop. Normal Powell is a maniac athlete at guard, Jakob Poeltl is big and young. Corey Joseph is a really good all around PG off the bench, Terrence Ross is a really good shooter and athlete but often has mental lapses. Lucas Nogueira is a large human. The Raptors have a pair of stud backcourt partners and a good starting lineup along with them.
Matchups to watch:
- Andre vs JV: JV has given Andre some foul trouble in the past with his offensive game. Andre has generally given it to him on the other end, but without the drawing of fouls. If Andre can keep out of foul trouble the Pistons will be in good shape.
- Andre vs Moving with purpose: Andre has always played hard, that is something I will defend to the end, his problem is that his effort often lacks focus and direction. The last few weeks he has started to really move with purpose on offense and defense and it is yielding some really good stuff. Even though he missed a bunch of shots in the last game, he was getting to the right places and making the right plays. If he plays like that I can live with him having a bad night occasionally.
- KCP vs Getting right: Other than his absurd night against the Pellies, KCP has not looked good since coming back from injury, and I’m officially a bit worried. Over his last 9 games, which includes his night against the Pelicans, he is averaging 12.4 points on 35.2% shooting from the field, and 30.6% from 3. And his defense is starting to worry me too. He doesn’t need to be a star, but if his shooting regresses and he doesn’t find his defensive brilliance back, the Pistons are in a heap of trouble.
- Reggie Jackson vs Getting the Ball in the hoop: Reggie had an awesome month of January where he scored 19.6 points and tossed 5.8 assists per game and did it really efficiently, causing me to determine that he just needed some time to get going and he is ok now. In February however, he is scoring just 8.8 per game and shooting 32.8% overall, and 23.8% from 3. On the plus side, he is in another stratosphere passing the ball in that same time period with 6.2 assists against 1.0 turnovers per game. If he wants to try and pass more that is fine, but he needs to get more of his shots down.
- Stanley Johnson vs God mode: Stanley has been really good lately, even though his shooting has (and likely will continue) come and gone, his defense has been awesome and he is creating shots for others and it has been big for the bench.
- Pistons vs Getting the good win: The Pistons have started to turn it around lately, but it is undeniable that they have mostly been beating up on bad teams lately. If they can win this game I just feel like it would be big for them, a road win over a good team.
- Pistons vs DeMar: DeRozan is a known Pistons destroyer. He is too big for KCP to handle effectively, and Morris isn’t really quick enough, and Stanley fouls him too much. One of those 3 is going to have to step up their game tonight.
So in conclusion…
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
- Andre avoids foul trouble.
- KCP becomes the flaming meteor that destroyed the dinosaurs.
- Stanley is smothering everyone who he defends.
Run for the hills if:
- DeRozan starts hitting every shot he takes.
- Andre has 2 fouls in the first 4 minutes of play.
- KCP and Reggie continue to look bad.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
- Marcus Morris continues to play really well.
- One of Reggie/KCP gets out of their funk for at least one game.
- Pistons win in a closely contest game decided by clutch shooting from the opposing backcourts.
- Pistons 95 – Raptors 94.
What do you think? Is KCP regressing or just a wee slump? Is Reggie just trying to pass more or is there something wrong?