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Pre-game news & notes: Raptors get first crack at new-look Pistons - Raptors Republic: ESPN TrueHoop Network Blog
Raptors News

Pre-game news & notes: Raptors get first crack at new-look Pistons

A chance to get back on the right track.

The Detroit Pistons are at the Air Canada Centre to play the Toronto Raptors on Monday. It’s a different Pistons team than the Raptors played earlier in the year, and while Blake Griffin is the most obvious addition, head coach Dwane Casey was worried about a pair of holdovers, too, particularly Andre Drummond, who he got to see up close at All-Star weekend.

“One thing is they play hard. They play hard, they’re a very forceful team. For whatever reason Ish Smith has always played well against us. And Drummond, I’ve got a newfound respect for him,” he said at practice Sunday.

I don’t have a lot more to say since I also did the pre-game this morning, and I feel like hot garbage. It should be a fun game and a new, interesting test for the Raptors’ top-three defense. I hope you all enjoy the game.

The game tips off at 7:30 on Sportsnet One and Sportsnet 590. You can check out the full game preview here.

Raptors updates
Because I saw some people talking about it on the timeline today – with a bit of confusion since the NBA.com lineups page enforces an automatic minutes minimum beyond any filter you enter – and because I have nothing else to say right now, here are some Raptors lineup notes:

  • 5-man: The starters have played the third-most minutes in the NBA (632) and are closing in on the most minutes for any Raptors unit in the era we have lineup data available for (717). They also own a plus-11.6 net rating, fifth among lineups that have played 300 minutes or more together this year…the all-bench group owns a plus-28.5 net rating in 182 minutes, tops among any group with at least 100 minutes played.
  • 4-man: The starters without OG Anunoby have played the eighth-most minutes of any foursome in the NBA (945), and their plus-8.3 rating is the fourth-best among groups with 800 minutes or more…Two different all-bench foursomes rank second (all-bench without C.J. Miles) and third (without Pascal Siakam) in net rating among the top 250 most-used foursomes.
  • 3-man: It follows logically, then, that the Fred VanVleet-Delon Wright-Jakob Poeltl trio is pretty good. In fact, they have the best net rating (plus-21.3) of any of the top 250 most-used threesomes.
  • 2-man: The Raptors’ bench is all over the two-man pairing leaderboard, with the top three duos in the East (VanVleet-Poeltl, Wright-Poeltl, VanVleet-Siakam) and two more in the top seven (Anunoby-Kyle Lowry, Anunoby-DeMar DeRozan).

Anyway, you know all this, the Raptors are good, etc. I don’t know.

Expect things to hold mostly to form. Raptors 905 are home this week so one of the regular assignment guys would figure to be the 13th man here. They really no longer need to worry about Malcolm Miller’s service days since he almost surely won’t hit the maximum 45 by the end of the G League regular season, so it could be any of the wings in that spot (Lorenzo Brown has an ankle sprain). Check back before tip off for confirmation, if such a thing matters to you.

PG: Kyle Lowry, Delon Wright, Fred VanVleet
SG: DeMar DeRozan, Norman Powell
SF: OG Anunoby, C.J. Miles, Malcolm Miller
PF: Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam
C: Jonas Valanciunas, Jakob Poeltl, Lucas Nogueira
OUT: None
TBD: None
905: Malachi Richardson, Alfonzo McKinnie, Lorenzo Brown

Pistons updates
We went over all of this in the pre-game and there’s been nothing meaningful to come out in the time since. The Pistons’ starters are good, Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond have fit well together, Stan Van Gundy is still figuring out his rotation following some trade deadline tweaks, and despite being in a back-to-back situation, Detroit shouldn’t be too fatigued here – they played at 1 p.m. on Sunday and nobody played more than 32 minutes because they were blown out by Charlotte.

“One thing that concerns me, any time a team has a tough game the day before and they have anything in their pants, they’re gonna come back and really compete hard and play physical,” Casey said before the game. “And we’ve gotta play through it,.”

In terms of the changes to this specific matchup since the last time the teams saw each other, Griffin is the obvious one. Serge Ibaka and Pascal Siakam are reasonable checks for him, though  aplayer of that level is usually going to get his. Griffin is excellent, and a tough challenge. Acquiring him required thinning out the wings, and Detroit’s a little low on 3-point shooting and bodies to throw at DeMar DeRozan – Reggie Bullock is an underrated 3-and-D piece, Stanley Johnson a strong defender, and James Ennis a nice deadline addition, but the loss of Tobias Harris and Avery Bradley is noticeable here. The Pistons also don’t employ a point guard capable of keeping Kyle Lowry in front of them. The Raptors have the backcourt edge and should be in good shape here if the frontcourt can play Griffin and Drummond to something close to a draw.

PG: Ish Smith, Jameer Nelson, Dwight Buycks
SG: Reggie Bullock, Luke Kennard, Langston Galloway
SF: Stanley Johnson, James Ennis
PF: Blake Griffin, Anthony Tolliver, Henry Ellenson
C: Andre Drummond, Eric Moreland
OUT: Reggie Jackson, Jon Leuer
TBD: None
Grand Rapids: Reggie Hearn, Kay Felder

Assorted

  • Raptors 905 won at the ACC on Sunday and are at home again Wednesday, so the four assignment players should be around for this one. One of them will be active as the 13th man.
  • This is a good, important read from Doug Smith, in conversation with DeMar DeRozan about depression.
  • Another good DeRozan piece here, this time from Rob Mahoney of SI.
  • And what’s one more? Here’s my man Martin Rickman going inside a game of 2K between DeRozan and Damian Lillard.
  • Here’s the Last Two Minute Report for Raptors-Bucks. I am done discussing it. Abolish the L2M.
    • Casey’s take: “I don’t think we fought through Milwaukee’s physicality the other night. We more or less complained to the officials, didn’t take matters into our own hands, didn’t play physical enough.”

The line
The Raptors opened as 9.5-point favorites and the line quickly jumped to Raptors -11. It’s stayed close to that mark, currently sitting at Raptors -10.5 with a 217.5 over-under.

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