GAME TIME: 7:30 PM ET
Toronto: 16-27 (8-15 road)
Last 10: 3-7 (margin +1.3)
Pistons: 23-17 (12-7 home)
Margin: +0.1 ppg
Last 10: 4-6 (margin -2.2)
Finally, a team with more lineup problems than the Pistons. The Raptors have tried just about everything to compensate for injuries (Jermaine O'Neal and Jose Calderon) and for a paucity of talent at the wings. Tonight should be no exception, as Calderon is unlikely to play, O'Neal has missed four of the last five, and their twos and threes still aren't very good.
That leaves Chris Bosh, who has been as consistent as any player in the NBA over the last few seasons. On top of that, Andrea Bargnani has arbitrarily decided to play well. That gives the Raptors a pretty strong front line, which has shown over the last several games (in spite of the record).
As for the rest: Jamario Moon and Anthony Parker are putting up sixth man numbers in starter minutes; Jason Kapono is a three-point specialist who think's he's a slashing scorer; Kris Humphries has been solid, but can't really slide over to the three any better than can Bargnani. Rumor has it there's a trade on the horizon involving O'Neal, which officially makes that Raptor-Pacer trade a lose-lose.
No more small ball actually means less drama.
Keys for Detroit:
Deny Bosh: Without Calderon, this team isn't going to beat you from the perimeter (witness Monday's 2-18 debacle against Atlanta). Both big men have to be considered viable offensive weapons, so ball denial will be critical.
Get the backcourt going: Joey Graham is going to have to cover Iverson or Stuckey. When he sits, it's left to Jason Kapono. Yeah, that's the kind of matchup you exploit.
Avoid cheap fouls: Everyone in the regular rotation shoots 80% or better from the stripe, and the team excels at getting to the line.
Question of the game:
Can we turn it around? Now that smallball is out of the picture, will we see results? Detroit can consider this a tuneup for a difficult five game stretch that includes Houston, Dallas, Boston, Cleveland, and a T-Wolves team that beat them by 26 at the Palace for whatever reason.