Game Preview: Raptors vs Pistons

Holly MacKenzie - Raptors.com

Toronto Raptors (49-20) @ Detroit Pistons (35-33)

When: Sunday, March 17th, 4 P.M. ET

Where: Little Caesars Arena

Leading into tonight’s game:

- Injury report: For the Raptors, Serge Ibaka (league suspension) is out. Fred VanVleet (left thumb ligament), and Kyle Lowry (left ankle sprain) are listed as questionable. For the Pistons, Reggie Jackson (right ankle sprain) is listed as probable.

- Back-to-back: Sunday’s game will be the first in a back-to-back that will see the Raptors return to Toronto immediately after facing the Pistons to prepare to host the New York Knicks at Scotiabank Arena on Monday at 7:30 P.M. ET. This will be Toronto’s final back-to-back of the regular season. Sunday’s contest against the Pistons will also be the third of four consecutive early Sunday game starts for the Raptors this month.

- Recent history: This is the final regular-season meeting between the Raptors and Pistons this season. Detroit owns a 2-0 season series lead, most recently defeating the Raptors 112-107 in overtime on Mar. 3 at Little Caesars Arena. Kawhi Leonard did not play in that game, but Kyle Lowry had a season-high 35 points to go with seven rebounds and five assists in the loss. Blake Griffin had 27 points to lead the Pistons, while Andre Drummond added 15 points and 17 rebounds. While the Raptors enter Sunday’s game after a 111-98 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday, the Lakers flew to Detroit following Thursday’s game for a back-to-back against the Pistons. In a similar score to Thursday’s game, the Pistons defeated the Lakers 111-97, behind a 19-point, 23-rebound effort from Drummond.

Extra Assists

- Points on the board: Kawhi Leonard led the Raptors against the Lakers, scoring 25 points to go with eight rebounds, four assists and two steals in 33 minutes. This was his 33rd game scoring at least 25 points, which ranks seventh in franchise history. He needs one more game scoring 25+ to match Chris Bosh’s total from the 2009-10 season. Leonard is seventh in the league in scoring average, putting up 27.0 points to go along with 7.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.8 steals per game.

- Understanding the grind: With Kyle Lowry missing Thursday’s game because of a sprained left ankle, Norman Powell saw an opportunity and jumped up and grabbed it. Powell came off the bench to score 20 points go to with eight rebounds, two assists, two steals and a blocked shot in just 24 minutes against the Lakers. He shot 7-for-14 from the floor, including 3-for-6 from beyond the arc. Toronto is 7-1 this year when Powell scores at least 14 points.

- Two of three: The Raptors will be without Serge Ibaka again on Sunday as the Raptors big man serves a three-game league suspension for his role in an altercation with Cleveland’s Marquese Chriss last Monday. This will be the second game Ibaka has missed for the suspension. He will be able to return to the court when the Raptors play the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road on Wednesday.

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