Pistons at Raptors Game Preview - January 8, 2014
Regular Season Game #35
Back-to-back losses to the two best teams in the Eastern Conference have certainly cooled the Toronto Raptors.
Their upcoming schedule could get things turned around.
The Raptors look to bounce back from one of their worst offensive displays of the season when they try to hand the Detroit Pistons a sixth straight loss Wednesday night.
Toronto (16-17) moved atop the lowly Atlantic Division during a 9-2 stretch in which it averaged 101.1 points on 44.9 percent shooting, including 38.7 from beyond the arc.
The Raptors' season-best five-game winning streak ended with Sunday's 102-97 loss at Miami, and they followed that by putting up a season-low point total in an 86-79 defeat at Indiana two days later.
Avoiding a third straight defeat will require some improvement from the field after Toronto shot 37.0 percent overall and went 5 of 19 from long range against the Pacers.
"Shooters' legs, sea legs, whatever you want to call it, it was there," coach Dwane Casey said. "We can have all the excuses, but again, in a game like this, you've got to man up and bring it."
The upcoming stretch offers the Raptors a chance to get untracked. Their next four are against Detroit (14-21), Brooklyn, Milwaukee and Boston - all teams with losing records.
Toronto split four games last season with the Pistons, who are among the worst defensive teams in the league in 2013-14. Detroit is allowing an average of 102.1 points and 46.7 percent shooting. Its been even worse during a five-game slide, surrendering 104.4 points on 48.1 percent from the field.
Detroit was better defensively Tuesday, but lost 89-85 at New York while connecting on 37.2 percent from the floor - including 3 of 19 from behind the arc.
"We had a very good effort," coach Maurice Cheeks said. "We were able to fight back, but we couldn't make any shots at the end."
Brandon Jennings hasn't made many shots over the past two games, totaling nine points while missing 22 of 26 attempts, including 11 of 12 from 3-point range. The guard is still averaging 19.1 points on the road despite going 2 for 12 and finishing with only five against the Knicks.
The Pistons could get a lift offensively if Rodney Stuckey can return from a sore shoulder that's sidelined him for three games. The guard averages 14.0 points off the bench, and he had 18 in a 108-98 win in Detroit's most recent visit to Toronto on April 1.
The Raptors are looking for another big effort from guard DeMar DeRozan, who is averaging 25.0 points over the past four games. He had his best performance of that stretch Tuesday, scoring 28 points.
Patrick Patterson will try to build on his 20 points against the Pacers, but the backup forward has averaged just 8.5 over four career meetings with Detroit.
Patterson may be needed again if Toronto's starting front court struggles. Forwards Terrence Ross and Amir Johnson, and center Jonas Valanciunas combined for seven points on 2-for-19 shooting against Indiana. They each average at least 9.2 points.