Just like the game against the Atlanta Hawks, this could be a preview of a first-round matchup. The Pistons come into the game only three games out of a playoff spot whereas the Raptors are the second place team in the Eastern Conference. This is only the second game of four against the Raptors so this game could go a long way to establishing what we could see in the playoffs with this new Pistons team.
Though the Pistons do have eight wins out of their last nine games, the last win might worry some people. Yes, the Pistons were on their last game in a four-game-in-give-nights stretch, but many would have still expected the Pistons to pummel the Brooklyn Nets. Instead, it was a close game most of the way and the Pistons only ended up winning by five. Let us hope that the day off gave the Pistons time to rest up enough for the game, but not so much that they have lost rhythm.
While Detroit has been surging, the Raptors have cooled off quite a bit. They are only 5-5 in their last 10 games and just ended a four game losing streak by beating the Boston Celtics Saturday 109-96. The Raptors come into the game scoring the most points per game in the Eastern Conference and third most in the entire league. However, their defense is not as good as it should be. They are allowing the fourth most points in the East. They are also currently the holders of the largest win margin in the East.
Another reason for their recent struggles may have to do with the loss of DeMar DeRozan. He is their second leading scorer and has missed the last 20 games. However, since he has gone down, the NBA has taken notice of James Johnson who has had some posterizing dunks this year. However, Andre knows how to handle that.
Last Time We Met
December 19th, 2014 - Raptors win 110-100
Just three days before the Pistons had a four-day break from action, the Pistons lost to the Raptors 110-100. The Raptors had six players score double digits including Lowry (poor shooting night going 5-for-14) and Valanciunas (6-for-11 including 5-for-10 free throws for 17 points). The Pistons had five players in double figures. Josh Smith had a "good" game going 5-for-10 from the field to go along with eight rebounds, four assists and a block. Brandon Jennings lead the way with 22 points on 8-for-18 shooting while he also dished out eight assists against only three turnovers. This being a different Pistons team, they started the game with a five point lead but then lost the next two quarters by 16 points.
Players to Watch
Pistons: Andre Drummond
Drummond was ill during the game against Atlanta and it showed in his stat line. The next game, which was the next day, Andre said he felt better and it showed in his box score. However, it is hard to tell if he was at 100-percent. Now, with a day's rest and a win back under their belts, could Andre Drummond provide us more glee about having been "left" Drummond when the Raptors took Valanciunas? (For those that say "they weren't in the same draft, I know. But had the Raptors not had Valanciunas, they were reported to really like Drummond.)
Raptors: Kyle Lowry
Brandon Jennings has been playing "better" defense lately. Now let's see if it holds up against one of the better point guards in the league. Lowry is leading the team in points, assists and steals per game. If Jennings is able to contain Lowry's offense (without trying to match it), then that could bode very well towards a Pistons victory.
Where: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
When: 7:30 PM ET, January 12, 2015
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit
Pistons: Jennings, Caldwell-Pope, Singler, Monroe, Drummond
Raptors: Lowry, Ross, Johnson, Amir Johnson, Jonas Valanciunas
Raptors: DeMar DeRozan (groin)
Who would you rather see the Pistons face in the first round: Hawks or Raptors?