The Toronto Raptors and Detroit Pistons square off for the final time this season. The Raps lead this sad excuse for a rivalry with a 2-1 record, with last week’s road victory their only W in 7 starts. The Pistons are floundering, with 1 win in their last 10 games, and a 25% success rate on the road. Not exactly must-see TV!
In last week’s win in Detroit, the Raps were able to take control of the game in the second half. Jonas Valanciunas fared much better against the Pistons’ big pair of Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe than I thought he would. Can that happen again?
The Raps can stagger ever closer to that magical 30-win plateau if they:
- get decent games from their wing players. Detroit is as weak as they come at the 2 and 3 spots, on both sides of the ball. Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan split 42 points last week, and should be able to run roughshod once again over the likes of Kyle Singler, Brandon Knight and Jonas Jerebko.
- make some 3-balls, fergawdsakes. The Raps’ deep shooting has been deeply disappointing all season. Alan Anderson’s magic has been invisible recently, Terrence Ross has been spotty at best, and Rudy’s shooting is predictable only in the sense that there will be a lot of it. Kyle Lowry has shown signs of regaining his touch, and not a minute too soon. Poor shooting from distance is death in the modern NBA.
- defend tightly against Jose Calderon, and loosely against everyone else. Jose, the NBA leader in 3-point shooting percentage, can hurt the Raps, but only if they allow him space on the perimeter; he can’t create on his own, and he very seldom drives anymore. I don’t believe the Pistons have the personnel to win with jump shots, so I’d play off them, and protect the paint.
This is Jose’s first trip to the Air Canada Centre since The Trade. One suspects he will receive a standing ovation when introduced, and we’ll-deserved it will be. However, his heroics won’t be enough to stave off defeat, as the Raps will find enough balanced scoring to grab a 97-91 victory.
Brian Boake is a co-editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.