Toronto Raptors vs Detroit Pistons: Predictions, Odds and Roster Notes

How to Watch

What: Toronto Raptors at Detroit Pistons

Where: Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, MI

When: Sunday, March 17th at 4:00 PM EST

How (TV/Radio): TSN, Fox Sports Detroit | TSN Radio 1050 Toronto, 97.1 FM The Ticket

Toronto Raptors (Away)

Head Coach: Nick Nurse {All-Time 49-20 | TOR}

The Toronto Raptors are coming off of a comfortable win against their historical boogie man LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. The provided them with a record of 49-20, leaving them second in the Eastern Conference and just 3 games out of first position occupied by the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Toronto Raptors are making doing their best to make a late season push for first in the Eastern Conference. Toronto is 6-4 in their last ten games and hold wins against the Lakers, Heat, Blazers and Celtics in that time. One of those four losses was against the Detroit Pistons in an overtime affair that they surely want to avenge.

The Toronto Raptors lost their last match to the Detroit Pistons despite a herculean effort from Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam in the absence of Kawhi Leonard. The status of Lowry is up for debate in this game, but Fred Vanvleet is expected to return. With close to a full complement, the Raptors aren’t likely to have a repeat of their last performance.

Detroit Pistons (Home)

Head Coach: Dwane Casey {All-Time 407-340 | MIN, TOR, DET}

The Detroit Pistons are having an absolute see-saw of an affair with the NBA season. They are currently 35-33 which is good enough for sixth in the Eastern Conference. They have been on a good run as of late and have plans to spoil the Raptors’ intended return to the top of the Eastern Conference.

The Detroit Pistons have been doing their best to climb the ranks of the East but it is unlikely they will reach the Boston Celtics who are 6.5 games ahead of them. There are 7-3 in their last ten games and own a recent overtime victory over these Toronto Raptors.

The Detroit Pistons actually match up fairly well with these Toronto Raptors. They have the size and speed to challenge Toronto’s mobile bigs and they maintain the wing versatility to switch most players on the defensive end. It tends to be a defensive battle when these two teams meet, so expect another Detroit arena filled with excitement.

What’s At Stake?

The Detroit Pistons have dominated the all-time series against the Toronto Raptors. Over 88 regular season games, the Detroit Pistons lead the Toronto Raptors 53-35.

A win for the Toronto Raptors would bring them within 2.5 games of the Milwaukee Bucks who are first in the Eastern Conference.

A win for the Detroit Pistons would give them a one game lead over the Brooklyn Nets who trail them in seventh.

Questions to answer

What is the focus of the Raptors offence?

What is behind the Pistons’ turnaround?

We are going to compare the Toronto Raptors and the Detroit Pistons in an attempt to see who has the advantage in this matchup.

The Raptors Are Many Different Teams

Diversity in team play is certainly important in today’s NBA. Not only is a team required to beat the defence in many different situations, one offensive scheme must be as effective as the other. For the Toronto Raptors, they’ve succeeded with many styles of play. But have at times been stifled with indecision.

The Raptors excel on the break with Pascal Siakam, score efficiently in the pick-and-roll with Ibaka and Lowry, and flourish in isolation with Kawhi Leonard. They also maintain a plethora of capable long-range shooters led by Danny Green, Fred Vanvleet, and Norman Powell.

What is important going forward for the Raptors is doing what works. Earlier in the season Serge Ibaka was the teams second leading scorer because they would feed him in the pick and roll until teams reacted. With the glut of injuries they’ve played through, they’ve had to change their game plan many times over. Going into this game with the Pistons and into the playoffs, it is imperative that the Raptors decide who they are before the defence dictates that for them.

Simplicity Has Improved the Pistons

Dwane Casey came into the Detroit Pistons organization as a determined defensive mind with a focus more on stopping the ball rather than putting it in the basket. Seemingly all season the Pistons failed to put into motion Casey’s offensive schemes but it is now all being put together.

Running the screen and roll, ball reversals, and dribble hand-offs aren’t difficult to master. But with Blake Griffin running the show it is one of the more unique concepts in the NBA. With a big as the point of attack, the Pistons generate mismatches almost immediately. Earlier in the season a lack of comfort limited them, but now it seems to all be coming together.

Also worth a mention is the play of Luke Kennard. Once an after thought, he has developed into a valuable shooter and playmaker off the pick and roll. As per Dwane Casey:

The Pistons are not a team without their faults. But they are certainly peaking at the right time of the season.

Toronto Raptors Roster Notes

G Kyle Lowry – 14 Mar 2019 – Day To Day (Ankle) – Lowry did not play in Thursday’s game (Mar. 14) against the Lakers.

G Fred Vanvleet – 13 Mar 2019 – Out (Left Thumb Soreness) – Head coach Nick Nurse said VanVleet is practicing and is closing in on a return, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports.

Detroit Pistons Roster Notes

G Bruce Brown – 14 Mar 2019 – Day To Day (Right Ankle Discomfort) – The Pistons listed Brown as PROBABLE for Friday’s (Mar 15) game against the Lakers.

G Reggie Jackson – 14 Mar 2019 – Day To Day (Right Ankle) – The Pistons listed Jackson as QUESTIONABLE for Friday’s (Mar 15) game against the Lakers.

Head-to-Head: Kawhi Leonard (TOR) vs Blake Griffin (DET)

Look to the front court when the Toronto Raptors and Detroit Pistons face off again. Kawhi Leonard sat out in their last match while Blake Griffin poured in 27 points and 7 rebounds. Both players are the engines that drive their team and such a crucial game is needed by both to help secure playoff seeding.

Kawhi Leonard

Small Forward | 6-7, 230lb (201cm, 104kg) | San Diego State | Exp. 7 Years

27.0 PPG | 3.2 APG | 7.4 RPG | 1.8 SPG | 0.4 BPG | 2.1 TOV | .497 FG% | .363 3P%

Kawhi Leonard has always been the strong silent type and it has shown itself in his play. Despite sitting out every third game since February 13th, Leonard has scored more than 21 points in each of those contests. In his last game against the Lakers he quietly scored a nonchalant 25 points and contributed 8 rebounds and 4 assists. He didn’t have the chance to compete against the Pistons last time out, so expect a motivated Kawhi Leonard to take a game in the season series for himself.

Blake Griffin

Power Forward | 6-10, 250lb (208cm, 113kg) | Oklahoma | Exp. 8 Years

24.9 PPG | 5.4 APG | 7.7 RPG | 0.7 SPG | 0.4 BPG | 3.5 TOV | .471 FG% | .361 3P%

Blake Griffin has experienced a concerning cold-streak as of late. Despite being able to get to the free throw line, Griffin shot 3-12 in a win against the Lakers and a combined 5-19 in his two matches before that. In each of those games more than half of Griffin’s attempts have been from beyond the arc. While he is capable, Griffin in better served attacking the rim with his fantastic ball handling and incomparable athleticism.

Toronto Raptors at Detroit Pistons Predictions and Odds

The odds will be updated as they are made available.