Opponent Scouting: Toronto Raptors. (12-2)
Tonight at 7:30pm EST the Pistons will be back in action on the road to face the Eastern Conference leading Toronto Raptors. The Pistons are on two days of rest after beating the Atlanta Hawks and the Raptors are on one day of rest after losing to the Pelicans.
This Raptors team is really good. Like, really good. They come into this game with a stellar 12-2 record, the 3rd best offense in the NBA and 12th best defense. Kawhi Leonard is scoring 25 points per game on great efficiency and remains one of the most destructive defenders to ever live, he supposedly isn’t all the way 100% yet but if that’s true then look out. Kyle Lowry quietly continues to be the best point guard in the conference with his 16 points, 11 assists, great defense, and moon-shot three pointers.
Danny Green continues to do his thing. One of the better “3 and D” players in the league, he’s shooting 43% from deep and is a smart, strong, and high-effort defender. Pascal Siakam has been incredible, he still can’t really shoot from deep but he’s a smart passer and is finishing at a comically good level at the rim. Oh he also can legitimately defend four positions. Serge Ibaka is pretty much a full-time center now and he’s thriving while Kyle Lowry spoon-feeds him open looks. Ibaka isn’t the defender he once was but he’s still a plus defender. OG Anunoby still has work to do but for now he’s a very workable 3 and D guy. Fred VanVleet has struggled in the early season but he’s a tenacious defender and good shooter. Jonas Valaniunas isn’t playing a ton but he’s scoring in bunches, 13 points in 18 minutes per game.
This team is awesome. They probably can’t beat the Warriors because the Warriors are a different animal, but this team is as real a contender as it gets and they have been, clearly, the best team in the East.
Matchups to watch:
Pistons vs. Kyle Lowry: Lowry has torched the Pistons in the past. His combination of constant movement and shooting kills the Piston point guards. Both Jackson and Ish are giving better effort on defense this year but neither guy is likely to really be up for this challenge.
Pistons vs. Kawhi Leonard: Once again, the offensive improvement may well be worth it. But without Stanley Johnson in the starting lineup the Pistons have no one to guard Leonard. They will have to find some way to slow him down.
Andre Drummond vs. Serge Ibaka: Drummond has given it to Ibaka in the past when Ibaka has played center. Drummond is just a bit too big/strong/athletic for Ibaka. This is one matchup that the Pistons really need to go their way.
Blake Griffin vs. Being awesome: Best chance the Pistons have in this game is pretty much for Griffin to be the best player on the floor. Given Pascal Siakam, Kawhi Leonard, Serge Ibaka, and even OG Anunoby should all be tough defenders to throw at him it will be tough.
Reggie Bullock vs. Keeping it up: He’s found his shot in the last couple of games. Lets hope he continues to do that because the Pistons need his shooting desperately.
So in conclusion…
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Andre is smashing everything to dust.
Glenn Robinson III doesn’t look totally overmatched when defending Kawhi.
Blake Griffin is unstoppable.
Run for the hills if:
Kyle Lowry is nailing open 3 after open 3.
The Raptors bench mob runs the Pistons out of the building.
The Pistons are losing by 20 in the first quarter.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Drummond 20/20 (YOLO)
Kyle Lowry hits at least five three pointers.
Kawhi Leonard scores many points.
The Pistons scrape out a close game and get lucky to win at the end.
Pistons 113 - Raptors 110.