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Pistons vs. Raptors preview: Detroit; Toronto’s little brother

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The Raptors have had the Pistons’ number.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Toronto Raptors Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Twas a moon or so ago; George Blaha Bobblehead night was upon us.

The Detroit Pistons were riding a hot streak, having won four of five coming into that ceremonious night, welcoming the militaristic, super-talented, and second-best team in the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs. While the Palace may not have been rocking like it was on Ben Wallace’s jersey retirement night, it still felt like Detroit could hustle their way to a win, and cement that they are in fact back and will be playing winning basketball for the rest of the regular season, all in honor of the great George Blaha.

Well, the Spurs did Spurs things. The Pistons, Piston’y things. And the better team won by double digits. Okay, let’s start over again.

In order for Pistons nation to feel good about themselves as they pour a glass of ice-cold blue Kool-Aid, a win against the good (but stumbling) Toronto Raptors, who have frankly owned Detroit these past few seasons, would go a long way.

Game Vitals

Where: Air Canada Centre
When: Sunday, February 12th at 6:00 p.m. EST
Watch: NBA TV, Fox Sports Detroit

Analysis

With the recent surge from the Washington Wizards and steady play of the Boston Celtics, you might be surprised to see the Raptors sitting at the fourth seed in the current playoff picture. Yes, the Raptors have fallen to the four seed. The top of the Eastern Conference is much improved from last season. Luckily for Detroit, the bottom of the conference is far worse.

So what’s been going on with our neighbors to the North? Toronto relies ultra-heavily on the play of their dynamic back-court duo in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. The DeRozan and Lowry combo average 50+ points per game, that’s 47 percent of Toronto’s total offense. You take one of those guys out of the equation, and you begin to see the offensive frailty from the rest of the group not named Kyle Lowry. DeRozan has missed seven of the Raptors last ten games, and their rankings and stats look like this.

Rankings and Statistics, last 10 games (Raptors: 4-6)

14th- Defensive rating (107.1), offensive rating (108.2)

18th- Field goal percentage (46.1)

19th- Effective field goal percentage (51.5), true shooting percentage (55.5)

22nd- Points per game (105.6), three point field goal percentage (33.7)

26th- Pace (96.41)

27th- Assists to turnover (1.34)

Now the Raps have never been the most dynamic offensive group in the league, but they’ve been damn effective. Comparatively speaking, for the entire season, Toronto ranks second in offensive rating, fifth in points per game and net rating, and eighth in field goal percentage and true shooting percentage. Having a healthy DeMar DeRozan is synonymous with Toronto Raptors success. When he plays at 100 percent, they’re a deadly team. When he’s out, they falter, and you truly see how limited their offense is.

Good news for the We The North faithful, DeRozan is back in the line-up, albeit not at 100 percent yet. Can the Pistons impose their improved defense (top five in their last five games) on the weakened Toronto Raptors? That will be the key to this contest.

Projected Lineups

Detroit

Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Jon Leuer, Andre Drummond

Toronto

Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, DeMarre Carroll, Pascal Siakam, Jonas Valanciunas

Prediction

Toronto owns Detroit. They’ve owned Detroit for quite some time now, and while I’ve taken a shot or two of Pistons Kool-Aid recently, I’ve yet to imbibe on an entire 40 oz’er, but damn have I wanted to. Seeing how I can not rely on a consistent Detroit effort night in, night out, I simply do not think that they’re going to magically figure out the Toronto puzzle.

Toronto 107, Detroit 99