I'll be gentle

Don’t look now, but our beloved Toronto Raptors are officially on a roll. With Jose Calderon and Alan Anderson stepping up their games and a renewed commitment to team defense, this team has to be feeling confident heading back to the friendly confines of the ACC. They face a team going in the opposite direction in the Detroit Pistons, who are in the midst of a 5 game losing streak.

Tip-off is at 7 p.m. EST on Rogers Sportsnet.

Tale of the Tape
Offensive Rating – Detroit 102.5 (20th), Toronto 102.1 (23rd)
Defensive Rating – Detroit 106.5 (21st), Toronto 108.2 (27th)
Pace – Toronto 91.6 (18th), Detroit 90.4 (24th)
Strength – Toronto Ball Control (3rd in TO%), Detroit Opponent FG (48.2%, 9th)
Weakness – Toronto O-Rebounding (25%, 25th), Detroit Forcing Turnovers (29th in opponent TO%)

Positional Breakdown

Point Guard – Jose Calderon v. Brandon Knight
Advantage: Toronto
Hard to go against a red-hot Jose Calderon right now. Brandon Knight is a decent young player who is still learning how to be a consistent producer. He does have the potential to go off any given night and Calderon will have trouble with his quickness, but the Raptors improved team defense should mask some of that. Calderon has been looking for his offense recently, and it remains to be see whether he will be able to get his shot off against one of the longer points in the league.

Shooting Guard – DeMar DeRozan v. Kyle Singler
Advantage: Toronto
This is the matchup that needs to be exploited to improve the Raptors chances for a 4th consecutive victory. DeRo should have no problem abusing am athletically-challenged rookie, right? Well, in their previous meeting, Demar went a paltry 2 of 9 for 5 points and only 2 FT attempts. He should be getting more than 2 FT attempts if he’s playing Singler.

Small Forward – Mikael Pietrus/Alan Anderson v. Tayshaun Prince
Advantage: Detroit
Alan Anderson is deservedly playing the lions share of minutes at the 3 right now, and this trend should continue tonight. He’s been pretty accurate from the 3pt line of late, but will the length of Prince affect him? Tayshaun is still a very dependable and consistent player who provides 12 – 15 points, 5 boards and excellent defense, so regardless of how AA is playing right now the edge goes to the lanky Piston.

Power Forward – Ed Davis v. Jason Maxiell
Advantage: Toronto
This is a tough one. Both are defensive-type players but Ed has the length and hops advantage and should try to take full advantage of it. Maxiell’s a tough player who challenges everything in the lane, but his offensive abilities are limited. His strength will be an issue for Davis inside. Slight edge to Toronto.

Center – Jonas Valunciunas/Amir Johnson vs. Greg Monroe
Advantage: Detroit
Similar to the Pietrus situation, Jonas will probably not see as many minutes as Amir, who is coming off a couple of excellent games. But Monroe is flirting with stardom, his frame and skill set will be hard for the more slender Toronto big to deal with. If Valunciunas can stay out of foul trouble, he might actually have the best chance of slowing down a Monroe power game. The Pistons’ young center is not much of a shot-blocking presence, so the Raptors should have success finishing at the rim. His overall offensive game and rebounding give him the advantage tonight.

Advantage: Toronto
I’d like to give Detroit the advantage due to Andre Drummond alone, but the Raptor bench has more guys that make an impact. Austin Daye, Will Bynum and Charlie Villanueva strike fear into noone. Linas Kleiza will probably play minutes at the 4 if Detroit decides to go small, while Amir and Alan Anderson are effectively getting starter minutes right now. Landry Fields might even see some minutes. What will be really interesting is if hes shot has improved after the surgery.

The Pick
Vegas – Toronto -2.5
A-Dub – Toronto by 5

Toronto actually has a distinct advantage at the 2 guard spots, which you can’t say too often, and they should win this game handily if Jose and DeMar play like they can. They are playing great team ball, and as long as they can contain Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe, they should take this. This is a must-have for a team that needs to cover a lot of ground if it has any designs on playing meaningful games this season.

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  • PBJake

    This is a classic trap game. Toronto has all the advantage heading in this game, except for this being the second night of a b2b. I think the offense will struggle, making this game a lot closer than it should be, and the game will depend on who shows up for defense first.

    • Daniel

      Completely agree.

      • voy

        i’d like to hear you expound upon your previous thought.

        “LeBron wittled when defended by a Bruce Bowen: imagine him defended in the 80′ or 90’s! Imagine my Bulls’ favorite Pippen defending LeBron or Durant! Durant is even a sadder case than LeBron as all he does is jump-shooting”.

        • Daniel

          Much obliged: today’s best players are very talented however thay lack grit and mental toughness. Partly because the new rules favour the perimeter players and partly because the individual defense is almost a lost art in NBA. The greatest players in the game at guard or forward position used to be very good to great individual defenders (MJ, Bird, Magic, Pippen, etc). LeBron is much more of a complete player than Durant who basically is a supremely talented scorer and that’s it, no defense, no post-up game, no toughness (instead of hating LeBron he likes him and hangs out with him). These guys would not have been even close to what they represent today in the old-school type basketball. Of course the media are ten times bigger than in the past so they look bigger than life however at historical scale they are not legends of the game.

          • voy

            so who do you think is the 1980s or early 90’s version of Lebron and Durant? Who would you say are their comparibles in that era?

  • KJ-B

    News out of Detroit is that Brandon Knight is getting tired logging heavy minutes without a legit backup behind him…hmm–maybe Jose can tap the fountain of youth again tonight + JLucas can continue the energy game… The name of the game tonight is “Charity Stripe” — abuse the free throw line + hopefully your new found “respectability”… Score with the clock stopped!

    Looking for DeRozan to get to the line minimum 10 times tonight and “The Everywhere Man” to keep doing his thang!  Easy Ed needs to go back to Special Ed pronto!

    • j bean

      If they need pg help maybe the Raps could swing something. 

      • ibleedpurple

        because the raps are running a charity over here for other nba teams. Hell no we don’t need a damn thing from the detroit pistons.

  • J X

    Stuckey not playing? He usually guards DD well

    • Konanas

      Unfortunately, Stuckey will play 🙁

  • c_bcm

    Need to bring the intensity tonight. I want to see a hungry Raptors team that utterly destroys this team. The only excuse would be the b2b thingy. But with our bench depth is improving with injured players coming back I don’t think this will pose much of an issue.  This is a perfect game for Fitty Shades (Gray) to get some run against Monroe/Drummond, which only improves the rotation depth. 

    No reason why the Raps can’t get this one.

  • Roarque

    Our two best warriors promoted from the bench are 30 and 31 years of age. Not good for the second half energy on the latter side of a B2B. It might be smart for Dwane to challenge Landry Fields to play much of the 2nd and 3rd Qs to show us if he’s learned anything about D while on the bench. My recollection is that Landry’s qualifications include being a selfless GLUE guy. That kind of guy should be willing and able to step into this scenario. Just don’t count on his shooting stroke to be prime time yet.

    The Raps need AA (Kobe) to show up for the finish.

    How much are they paying this guy – $875 K ???

    • mountio

      Enjoy it while you are getting it from AA .. its not gonna last. I just hope he doesnt actually think hes Kobe. If he keeps rebounding and defending and not worrying about his shot .. Ill be happy

      • what the

        but but who’s gonna do the scoring when AB13 is gone

  • gizzly73

    Bench strength is starting to show for the Raps with the return primarily of AA and the acquisition of MP. Our wing players know that there are three other guys playing well that can step in and do the job; so play well or sit down.

    This, no doubt, has a positive effect on the whole team. It was a pleasure to watch “team basketball” for a change; although, don’t get too excited folks. It was only Cleveland. A win tonight against Det will be a better indication of where this team is headed.

    This win streak will perhaps force the Bargs issue. Can he be amnestied? Because how do you trade an anchor?

    • CJT

      Sorry, did you mean the Lowry issue?  Don’t forget, that not only was it Cleveland, but Houston and Dallas as well.  Both of those teams are better than the Pistons and they seemed to handle them alright.  Go Raps.

  • pran

    I guarantee a loss.

    • guest

      looks like that you guaranteed you’re a retarded fuck then.

  • Dru_hoang

    something smells fishy.
    I’ve lost a lot of these games.

    Going with the dogs

  • what the

    Relax Raps fans we WIN again tonight.

    • what the

      FAQ, it looks like this team is starting gell without the jelly.

  • Da_saint00

    I want Drummond!!!!!! JV and AD together in 2-3 years??? YIKES!!!!!! 
    the Raps will win if Casey uses the bench appropriately and accordingly…. 

  • BCBargnaniJoseGots2Go!!!

    Pistons (who didn’t play yesterday) on a 5 game losing streak, Raptors on a 3 game winning streak- which one ends tonite?

    Can’t wait to see AD & Val match up during the game.

    Val & AD would been a monster frontcourt moving forward…….but BC didn’t like his mental make up or some other bullchit caliper test related particulars..

    Det 95 BC’s Andrea Raptors 90

    • 511

      Not a question of which streak ends; either both continue or both end. And your prediction streak along with them, lol. Here’s hoping all three streaks continue. 

      • 511

        3 for 3. 

        • BCBargnaniJoseCaseyGots2Go!!!

          If me picking the Raptors to lose guarantees a W I’ll pick them to lose every game, 82-0!!!!lol

          But as long as it’s working over this brief period of time I’ll keep it up until they actually lose a game.lol

          • 511

            atta boy! 

    • guest

      if you keep saying they’ll lose every game eventually you’re gonna be right fuckface. 0-4 the last 4 games though, try something new dipshit.

  • Roarque

    Wasn’t Amir a Piston? Doesn’t Amir have a sense of pride? Will Amir have a big game tonight? Should Amir start this game?

    Just thinking out loud here….

  • Tonious35

    This game is not at all a trap game…not when Greg Munroe is playing, we just keep getting killed by that guy!  They as many wins as we do, so they are in the same level as us.

    • what the

      no now we don’t have AB13

  • Scottbbaird

    Fuck it, I’m buying an Anderson jersey.