Raptors Cage

Game Day Preview: Toronto Raptors look for season sweep against Pistons

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The Toronto Raptors will look for their fifth straight win, and a season sweep against the Detroit Pistons at the Palace of Auburn Hills at 6:00 ET.

The Pistons have won three straight games and are currently the 9th seed in the Eastern Conference, only half a game behind the Chicago Bulls. For the Raptors, a win tonight would place them  a game behind the Cleveland Cavaliers, who lost to the Washington Wizards earlier today.

Coach Dwane Casey will rest Kyle Lowry tonight, and says it is likely that DeMar DeRozan will play after he missed Saturday’s practice because of illness. Stanley Johnson is listed as questionable for the Pistons, while power forward Anthony Tolliver will sit out due to injury.

Cage’s Keys To the Game

Crash the Boards

The Detroit Pistons currently lead the NBA in offensive rebounding with 12.9 a game, and because of it they’ve been able to terrorize their opponents with second chance opportunity points.

In their past three games, they’ve outscored their opponents by 28 second chance points, while winning the battle on the glass every night. The Toronto Raptors have struggled this month on the defensive boards ranking as the second worst in the league with 31 rebounds a game, only behind the Los Angles Lakers.

While the Raptors have had their recent struggles, they should be confident in the fact that if they do rebound defensively, they are very likely to win. Their top 12 best defensive rebounding performances have all resulted in wins.

Protect the 3-Point Line

Like any team that is coached under Stan Van Gundy, they are very likely to jack up a lot of 3-point attempts. The Pistons are ninth in the league in doing so, averaging 28 3-point attempts a game.

After the Raptors’ Friday night performance against the Cavaliers, where they let them shoot 50 per cent from the field, they should be motivated from stopping the Pistons from getting comfortable from beyond the arc.

In games that the Pistons have shot over 37 per cent from downtown, they’ve been an impressive 17-4. The most likely Pistons to do their damage are Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Reggie Jackson and newly acquired small forward, Tobias Harris who shoots 38.9 from deep.

Shoot the 3-Ball

The last time the Raptors played the Pistons on Feb. 8, they shot lights out from distance by converting on 55 per cent of their attempts.

In February, the Raptors have been the fifth best 3-point shooting team in the league, with a 37.7 clip from distance. The only concern is that the Raptors aren’t shooting enough of them, only averaging 23.6 attempts a game, the 14th lowest amount in the association.

With the Raptors lacking a bit of depth upfront, it might be time that they experiment more around the wings with a more consistent dose of perimeter shooting.

X-Factor: Jonas Valanciunas

The Detroit Pistons have a beast as their centre, and his name is Andre Drummond.

In order for the Raptors to contain him, Jonas Valanciunas will have to have a big defensive game to stop him from putting up the 16.8 points and 15 rebounds he’s been averaging this season. With an underrated post game, Drummond is a large presence down low. The best thing to do to stop him from scoring is by simply fouling him, since he averages a shameful 35.9 per cent from the charity stripe.

Valanciunas should also be looking forward to putting in some work tonight, after only scoring 11 points against the Cavaliers despite shooting an impressive 80 per cent from the field.

All stats for this article are from NBA.com

You can follow Bryan Meler on Twitter @BryanMelo97


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