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%)
Point Guard – Jose Calderon v. Brandon Knight
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.