Opponent Scouting: Toronto Raptors. (58-22)
Today at 7:00pm EST the Pistons will play their last home game of the season against the Toronto Raptors. The Pistons are on the second night of a back to back after losing the the Grizzlies yesterday and the Raptors are also on the second of a back to back after beating the Magic yesterday.
The Raptors are the best team in the East, and by pretty much any measure no worse than the 3rd best team in all of basketball. They have already clinched the top seed in the East so it is not clear exactly how many of their guys they will actually play. Expect some, but it is not unlikely that some starters will be out and the ones who play will not play major minutes.
They are of course led by their superstar backcourt. DeMar DeRozan should be getting real MVP consideration, Kyle Lowry has less gaudy numbers than he has in the past but he is still a great two-way point guard and there is a very strong argument that he is the best point guard this side of the Mississippi. Beyond those two they have a bunch of really good players, Serge Ibaka doesn't do anything spectacular on offense but is still quite good while also being a plus defender. Jonas Valanciunas is still not really a plus defender but he is a very good rebounder and can score inside. Fred VaVleet is a killer 6th man who can do a bit of everything, Pascal Siakam is a great energy guy, so is Jakob Poeltl. OG Anunoby looks like a steal as a 3 and D rookie. Delon Wright is also a pretty good all-around bench player.
Matchups to watch:
Ellenson vs. Being good: Now that the option of a moral victory by finishing .500 is gone it truthfully doesn't matter at all if the Pistons win or not. One of the things that can matter is Henry Ellenson continuing to look passable. He has a good chance to double his minutes total from last year and if he does play the last couple of games we will have the largest continuous sample we have for him. His defense is bad but not a total loss, and his offense has been quite good over this stretch. Over the last 8 games Ellenson is scoring 7.1 points, grabbing 2.5 rebounds, and dishing .8 assists in 13.1 minutes per game. He is shooting 44% from the field and 40% from deep. Per 36 minutes thats 19.6 points, 6.9 rebounds (nice), and 2.1 assists. Big thing to watch.
Luke Kennard vs. Being aggressive: He looked better in the last game although he may have had his worst defensive game all season. Regardless, even though there is less need to see him succeed like there is with Ellenson, it would still be good to see him thrive in the last two games as a starter.
Pistons vs. Giving a crap: There just wasn't any fight in the team yesterday, and I get it. But the Pistons have to show something more than they did last time out.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
The caucasian splash brothers are going to be a real thing going forward.
The Pistons are not letting the Raptors to have a layup line.
The Pistons are shooting a ton of three-pointers again.
Run for the hills if:
It is a layup line for the Raptors.
The Pistons can't get up to give any effort in the last home game.
The season is essentially over anyways so you don't really need to run for the hills.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Yeah I'm not making any predictions after the last game lol.