Game Preview: Raptors at Pistons
The Raptors are in Detroit to take on the Pistons following Tuesday's disappointing 108-90 loss against the Indiana Pacers. While Toronto is on the second game of a back-to-back, the Pistons haven't played since a 108-105 overtime loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday.
Tip-off: 7:30 P.M. ET
Broadcast info: TSN4, TSN5 / TSN1050
In the last meeting between these two teams, Toronto earned a hard-fought 87-75 victory over the Pistons in Detroit. The Raptors trailed much of the game, down 72-63 with 9:13 remaining in the game before they reeled off an improbable 24-3 run to close the game for an 87-75 win. Toronto outscored Detroit 27-9 in the fourth quarter.
DeMar DeRozan scored 14 points in the game, well below his 27.3 point-per-game season average, but he added eight rebounds and six assists and played one of his best defensive games of the season. P.J. Tucker praised his defensive efforts after the game. Serge Ibaka led the team in scoring with 17 points and nine rebounds, while Tucker played the entire fourth and sparked Toronto's defensive stand as he was a +18 in the quarter, scoring all eight of his points and grabbing six of his nine rebounds in the fourth.
After leading by 19 points in the first half against the Pacers, the Raptors came out flat to start the third. It ended up costing them dearly as Indiana started connecting on 3-pointers and turned their 19-point deficit into an 18-point victory.
Knowing the Pacers are fighting for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, the Raptors also knew that Tuesday's game would be intense. The loss certainly wasn't welcomed, but it is a reminder of the importance of playing for 48 minutes. Toronto opened the third missing seven of their first eight field goal attempts, while also turning the ball over four times in the first three minutes of the quarter, allowing the Pacers to trim Toronto's 11-point halftime advantage to two midway through the quarter.
"We didn't come out with the right approach in the third quarter," Dwane Casey said. "Giving up a 37-point quarter, the three-ball, I think they were 9-for-12 in the second half and that's the power of the three. You let a team like that get feeling good about themselves and that's what happens."
With just four games remaining in the regular season, the Raptors hope to clean up defensive and offensive lapses and stay locked in for the full 48 minutes of regulation.
Dwane Casey talked to his team about the intensity the Indiana Pacers would bring in Tuesday's game. For a half, the Raptors were ready. A third quarter lapse resulted in a disappointing loss and Casey would like to ensure there is not a repeat performance in Detroit on Wednesday nor against the Miami Heat on Friday.
As the Raptors close out the season unsure of what position they will finish within the top eight teams in the Eastern Conference, they're facing opponents that are fighting for an opportunity to reach the postseason as well as those looking to finish out the season with pride.
"You've got teams playing for their playoff life" Casey said. "Every possession is important. Every possession is important on both ends of the floor."