Game Tips at 7:30 P.M. EST
Toronto Raptors: 8-15 (2-9 road)
Detroit Pistons: 7-17 (5-5 home)
The Toronto Raptors will be without two of their best players tonight, namely Chris Bosh and Jose Calderon. Bosh is currently rounding out the Third Wheel Offense of Pat Riley in South Beach, while Calderon is nursing an injured foot and did not travel to Detroit. Fret not, the Pistons will still find a way to make somebody on the Raptors roster famous tonight, and it might even be ex-Piston Amir Johnson.
Johnson is starting for the also-injured Reggie Evans, filling out a starting lineup with Jerryd Bayless, DeMar DeRandomCaps, Sonny Weems and Andrea Bargnani. It should be a surprise to few Pistons fans that Amir is still the favorite of the advanced stats, as he leads the Raptors in PER, ORTG, ws/48, etc-- all the metrics that pay zero attention to fouls. Johnson is actually a smart pairing with Raptors center Andrea Bargnani, whose away-from-the-basket offense (and lack of defense) feels a lot more wing than it does pivot. This allows Bargnani to do what he does, which is take way too many long 2's instead of focusing on his game within 10' of the basket, where he can be deadly efficient. Whoever guards Bargnani tonight will have their hands full, be it Wallace or Monroe.
As a team, the Toronto Raptors present the worst defense in the Eastern Conference, second in the league only to the Phoenix Suns. Much of this can be blamed on poor perimeter D (which is likely to improve tonight without Calderon on the court) and interior defense, thanks to the already bad Bargnani who has apparently forgotten how to block shots. This bodes well for Greg Monroe.
Tonight, the Raptors will be fielding a changed team that the Pistons haven't seen before. All bets are off that this could guarantee a win, especially having been recently trounced by the injury-ridden Orlando Magic last month. If we're going to win this one, let's focus on the following keys:
Keys to the Game:
Start Monroe (or more pointedly, force Toronto into foul trouble): With Amir Johnson on the bench, the Raptors are forced to go small with Linas Kleiza and lose all interior defense (unless Joey Dorsey is given minutes). Start Monroe, and the blocks that Darko recorded last night will be whistled as fouls tonight.
Pick up the Pace, Move the Ball (copied/pasted/forever): Toronto plays at one of the fastest paces in the league, but they also give up a lot of points. Monroe looks for quick outlet passes, and our slashing wings could have a lot of fun tonight if Johnson and Dorsey are on the bench. If we don't move the ball well, we'll be forced into taking another game's worth of bad shots. See Prince: Tayshaun.
Get Open on the Perimeter: Toronto is really poor at guarding the 3-point shot, as teams have killed them from outside this season. It could be a very good night for Richard Hamilton, Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, but it'd be an even better night to give Austin Daye some burn (who could actually work at the 4 tonight if Johnson is on the bench, as he'd serve just fine on Bargnani).
Question of the Game:
Is it December 15th yet? Should I even really be looking forward to that date?
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