- Teams: Detroit Pistons at Toronto Raptors
- Date: October 12, 2012
- Time: 7:00 p.m.
- Television: NBATV, FSD
- Raptors: 1-1
- Pistons: 1-0
- Jose Calderon
- DeMar DeRozan
- Landry Fields
- Andrea Bargani
- Aaron Gray
- Brandon Knight
- Rodney Stuckey
- Tayshaun Prince
- Jason Maxiell
- Greg Monroe
Read about the Raptors
What to look for
Through two games in the preseason, the Toronto Raptors’ first unit has struggled to offer much resistance on the interior, which has resulted in their opponents getting a myriad of looks right at the basket.
In the Pistons’ first preseason game, this was evident from the start as Rodney Stuckey, Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe all got great looks right at the basket against the Raps.
Part of the problem right now for the Raptors is that their starting big men are a little flat footed and their perimeter players have trouble fighting through screens. Put it all together and ball movement combined with screens gives their starters some fits.
In their first preseason game, the Pistons started out running some screen action on the wings, which then resulted in their perimeter players shaking free and driving straight to the basket for either a lay in, fouls or a dish to an open teammate.
Detroit then confused the Raptors a little more by running the side screen action and then running pick-and-rolls in the middle of the floor with the big man making it right down the lane for a catch and finish.
Part of the issue for Toronto is that Aaron Gray plays a little like Kurt Thomas when he was with the Spurs: his role is to act big by putting both hands up when sliding defensively to protect the rim. This technique works well for elite shot blockers — think Tim Duncan and Dwight Howard — because they can change shots with their mere presence, whereas Gray is often late and fails to intimidate when protecting the basket.
Also worth noting, the Pistons ran some of their offense through the post, which allowed their perimeter players to set screens and cut to the rim for easy opportunities.
So far this preseason, the Raptors’ second unit has competed better defensively and there is no reason to expect otherwise.
Offensively, it seems as though DeMar DeRozan may try and succeed in becoming the Raptors leading scorer this season. So far, he has been quite aggressive in looking for the ball on the block and driving to the hoop to score or get fouled.
He was aggressive from the outset against the Pistons, trying to take advantage of the smaller Stuckey, and getting himself to the free throw line. He drew a couple of questionable foul calls — the referees bailed him out a few times when he had nowhere to go — but the aggressive mind set he is displaying may well help him earn his fair share of free throws much like Corey Maggette has done throughout his career.
In addition, one should observe how Greg Monroe performs defensively this time around. In the first contest against the Raptors, he made his rotations and helped out his teammates but was whistled for a few fouls. His ability to patrol the paint and avoid fouls will go a long way towards his level of aggression on both sides of the ball and will be a factor in how Detroit’s season plays itself out.
One last thing, the Pistons dominated the Raptors on the boards earlier this week, with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond being the main catalysts for their board work; let’s see if they can make a repeat performance on this end.
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