Game Preview: Raptors at Pistons
The Raptors are in Detroit following a tough 123-102 home loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night. The back-to-back will be welcomed as Toronto looks to shake off one of its worst losses of the season. The Pistons look to snap a two-game losing streak, its most recent loss coming to the Utah Jazz in a 97-83 decision.
Tip-off: 7:30 P.M. ET
Broadcast info: SN1 / TSN1050
Depending on the day, one of the best and worst parts of the NBA schedule is that there’s always another game just around the corner. Even if the Raptors are tired after a disappointing loss on Thursday, few things ease frustrated basketball minds than another game and opportunity to get back on track.
After the loss against the Thunder, a loss where Russell Westbrook cruised to his 34th triple-double of the season with a 28-point, 10-rebound, 16-assist performance in 28 minutes, the Raptors locker room remained closed for an extended postgame conversation among the players. The coaching staff came in shortly after and the conversation continued.
When Dwane Casey addressed the media, he did not mince words when speaking about the loss his team had just endured.
“That exhibition of basketball was unacceptable,” he said. “I want to apologize to our fans, everybody, for the way we played tonight. The effort, the competitive spirit wasn’t there, that team came out and played like it was a championship game and we played like it was a middle of the season game.”
With the sting of the loss so fresh in their minds, look for the Raptors to play like a different team than the one that hit the court on Thursday night.
Coming out strong
While the Thunder used a late second-quarter run to to help build a 10-point advantage at the half, it was a 39-point third quarter that blew the game open. Oklahoma City led by 27 points after three quarters. Still, Dwane Casey, DeMar DeRozan and P.J. Tucker were concerned with the way the team started the game.
“We know we’ve got to come out and play harder,” DeRozan said. “That team played [like it was the] playoffs, with a sense of urgency, everything you can think of from the get go. We didn’t. The score told that.”
With the Thunder beating the Raptors in essentially every statistical measure of the game, Tucker was disappointed with the team’s offensive inefficiency bleeding over into its defensive intensity.
“Offence has been dictating how we play,” Tucker said. “If we make shots we play defence. It's gotta be the other way around. We have to play defence, guard people and then let the offence come. But number one, we gotta play hard. We didn't play hard tonight. They outplayed us from the beginning, off the jump, as soon as they said go, they played harder than us. They ran the floor hard, they screened hard, they crashed the glass hard. They did everything hard and we didn't.”
The Thunder came to Toronto hungry for a win as they continue to try to move up the standings in the Western Conference. As Toronto sits in fourth place in a packed Eastern Conference, playing hard from the jump will be a necessity going forward as the regular season winds down.
Lowry progressing as expected
Prior to Toronto’s loss to the Thunder, Dwane Casey was asked about Kyle Lowry’s health. Lowry recently went to New York to meet with doctors for his two-week post-surgery appointment to assess how his wrist is healing.
“Just a regular check up,” Casey said. “It’s on schedule, on time, there’s still no timetable or anything like that. But everything checked out and is where it should be.”