The Detroit Pistons have three games remaining, including playing host to the Toronto Raptors today at the Palace of Auburn Hills. The teams have split the season series 1-1 but the Raptors will look significantly different as they feature two starters who weren't even on their roster when the Pistons played them last -- Ben Uzoh and Alan Anderson. Anderson might be familiar as an important piece of Michigan State University's run to the Final Four in 2005. He played two seasons with the Charlotte Bobcats before bouncing around the NBA D-League and several overseas teams. This year is his first stint back in the NBA in five years.
Game Tips at 6:00 PM EST
Toronto Raptors: 22 - 41 (6- 16 road)
Detroit Pistons: 23 - 40 (16 - 15 home)
There seems to be some disagreement about whether the Pistons are "tanking" or not. While it's a largely ridiculous conversation if you ever want to root against the Pistons this season this game will probably be it. A win for the Raptors puts them in a tie with Detroit. And while the Pistons play games where they will not be favored against the Indiana Pacers and the Philadelphia 76ers, the Raptors face off against a possibly dejected Milwaukee Bucks team that may have been freshly eliminated from the playoffs and not playing with much enthusiasm. Of course, if the Bucks play with no heart because they're OUT of the playoffs then the Pistons' might just win their season-ending tilt at home because the Sixers will be IN the playoffs and not have anything to play for. The Pistons, with 23 wins, are in the ninth spot in the draft but there are three teams with 22 wins (Toronto, Golden State, New Jersey) and one team with 22 wins (Cleveland).
Keys to the Game:
Lean on the young guns -- If the Pistons do win I think it will be primarily because of the young guys on the team -- Greg Monroe has been a beast against the Raptors in two previous games, and Brandon Knight could easily get hot from the floor and dish out a handful of assists. Rodney Stuckey could go off and I'd love to see Jonas Jerebko and Vernon Macklin get some serious burn.
Aaron Gray is big -- While starting center Aaron Gray certainly won't overpower you with craft and skill, he is a big, big man who can simply outmuscle you. At 7 feet and 270 pounds Gray was able to play two of his best games of the season against the undersized Pistons.
Don't make them look better than they are -- An odd final point, I admit, but I couldn't think of a better way to put it. Simply -- players like DeMar DeRozan, Amir Johnson, Gary Forbes and James Johnson have serious flaws in their games. But they can be effective when sloppy or lazy D allows them to use their athleticism to drive to the bucket, or if bad defensive rotations give them easy, high-percentage looks near the basket. If the Pistons make the Raptors work hard to execute their offense Detroit will probably win. If they allow some mediocre players to have quality games they will lose.
Question of the Game:
I have a feeling some Pistons is going to have a 3-for-12 type of performance. Who is it going to be -- Brandon Knight, Ben Gordon, Tayshaun Prince, Rodney Stuckey, Charlie Villanueva?