Gameday: Raptors @ Pistons, March 17

Raptors head to Motor City in hopes of kiboshing a five-game losing skid.

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Photo by Scott Audette/NBAE via Getty Images


The Skinny

[Kind of] Good news!

[Some of ] The boys are [maybe] back.

Looks like we’ll know more closer to game time. We shan’t be hopeful. Even if they suited up, after such a long hiatus, we’re not sure what we’re going to get – if anything. Fred Van Vleet has already publicly described his vicious bout with COVID-19 and still has to pass some tests before clearance.

So, let’s assume it’s the ol’ crew running it back for the sixth time. I know, this is dumb, but I feel oddly optimistic about this game?

I shouldn’t, right?

I have no reason to. The Raptors are on a five-game losing streak – their longest since 2017 when they lost for a fifth time in-a-row to the Memphis Grizzlies.

Side Note: in that Memphis game, Siakam, DeRozan, and Delon Wright didn’t play; the two leading scorers were – ya, I know, this is adorable – Kyle Lowry and Norman Powell (FYI: 2Pat went 1/7 and Señor Gasol had 42 for the Grizz, ahhh nostalgia).

Detroit and Toronto also met only fourteen days ago (how has it been two weeks already?) both missing their starting core. Even without the triad of youth, I had similar optimism that the Raptors were going to handle business. Nope. Dead wrong.

Detroit came out en fuego and hit nine threes on eleven attempts in the first quarter and never looked back. Detroit ended up hitting 20 threes (teams are averaging sixteen threes a game on 40% shooting against the Raps during this skid [league-wide average is 13 on 37%]).

This time, Detroit has their starters back; the Raptors do not.

And, yet, I have this feeling that everything is going to magically coalesce tonight.

Look at the positives. They lost to Boston and Atlanta by a combined eight points – in both, they had commanding leads.

The first Pistons game doesn’t really count considering that the entire Raptors community was in a tizzy coping with the news that half its coaching staff and most of its future franchise had to enter quarantine.

The Bulls game doesn’t count either because a b2b with a skeleton roster after a demoralizing defeat is a total mulligan.

That leaves only the Charlotte game. And, really, the Raptors’ defence held strong. Yessss, they gave up 44 points in the first quarter. But they only allowed 23 points in the second and 16 in the fourth. They just lacked the scoring punch to capitalize.

Surprisingly, the lack of scoring is not the bench’s fault; their bench is 9th in scoring over the 5-game slide (thanks to Boucher). What they’re really missing is a balanced attack from the “other” starters.

Most of the “others” are – slowly – finding their way. Having to suddenly score on and guard opposing starters for large parts of a game is a tough – and unideal – way to develop. Each has shown glimpses, just not consistently nor at the same time. Perhaps, tonight’s a night where they all put it together.

Besides, Detroit’s not exactly doing much better these days. Since canning the Raps, Detroit has been on a four-game L-slide. Three of those dumps occurring with a full roster.

Most recently, the spunky-AF San Antonio Spurs completely clomped them (never mind the final score). They’ve shot only 35% from three and averaged 100 points in those four games, which is good for the Raptors because stopping teams from scoring has been a bitttt difficult of recent.

I will note that Detroit has been weirdly competitive this year despite only winning ten games. Seven of their wins came against the 76ers, Nets, Lakers, Heat, Suns, and Celtics (x2). They can do it, but they also can’t.

I’ll probably eat my words twelve hours from now, but I’ve got a good feeling about this one.

Game Info

Tipoff: 7:00pm EST | TV: TSN4; FS-DET | Radio: SN 590

Raptors Lineup

Pat McCaw, Pascal Siakam, and Malachi Flynn practiced last night and are considered questionable.

Fred Van Vleet is doubtful (H&S Protocols).

OG Anunoby is out (H&S Protocols). Raptor coaches might be back!

PG: Kyle Lowry, Terence Davis

SG: DeAndre’ Bembry, Matt Thomas, Jalen Harris

SF: Norman Powell, Paul Watson, Yuta Watanabe

PF: Chris Boucher, Stanley Johnson

C: Aron Baynes, Henry Ellenson

Pistons Lineup

Hamadou Diallo (groin), Jahlil Okafor (knee), and Killian Hayes (hip) are out.

Rodney McGruder (sprained hip) and Dennis Smith Jr. (H&S Protocols) are questionable.

Wayne Ellington – ThreeGod himself – is doubtful (groin).

PG: Delon Wright, Saben Lee, Frank Jackson

SG:  Josh Jackson

SF: Jerami Grant, Saddiq Bey

PF: Sekou Doumbaya

C: Mason Plumlee, Isaiah Stewart

The Line

Raptors are favoured -2.5 (seeee I am not the only one with good feels). Detroit’s average point differential at home is -1.9. Mucho caution here.

No over/under – Vegas is biding its time with this one.

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