Start time: 6:00 p.m. ET
Channel: Sportsnet One
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Ben Uzoh, DeMar DeRozan, Alan Anderson, Amir Johnson, Aaron Gray
Detroit: Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey, Tayshaun Prince, Jason Maxiell
Toronto: Jose Calderon and Linas Kleiza are questionable, Andrea Bargnani and Jerryd Bayless are done for the season.
Detroit: No injuries to report.
In case you haven’t heard, this seemingly meaningless game is actually kind of a big deal…in the Tank Nation standings.
With teams like the Warriors, Cavaliers, etc. tanking like nobody’s business, and Dwane Casey keeping the Raptors respectable over the last month or so, the Raps now sit tied with Golden State for the seventh and eighth worst records in the league at 22-41. The Pistons, meanwhile, are just one game ahead of Toronto in the standings, so a Raptors win today would actually move the Raps up (or down, depending on how you think of it) into a tie for the NBA’s eighth and ninth worst records.
While we’ve seen time and time again that any team in the bottom eight or so has a chance on lottery night, we’re also aware of the percentages, and the fact that finishing that “high” brings the chance of falling out of the top-10 in the draft, which would be devastating for a rebuilding team like the Raptors.
I’m not saying to expect a game between two organizations that are trying to lose, but I’m not exactly giving this game a ringing endorsement either.
While the Raptors are banged up and come into this game at 10-21 on the road, the Pistons appear to be healthy and surprisingly, have a winning record at home (16-15), so Detroit can probably help Toronto’s lottery chances tonight.
On a sidenote, it may have been a tough season for us Raptors fans, but I’d be a hell of a lot more depressed if I was a Pistons fan right now. The Pistons have some nice young pieces in Brandon Knight, Greg Monroe and Jonas Jerebko, but they need a ton of extra talent and youth if they are going to build this thing the right way, and as it stands, the organization seems confused as to how to go about those building plans.
Detroit already has about $50 million committed for next season, with $40 million tied to veterans like Ben Gordon, Rodney Stuckey, Tayshaun Prince, Charlie Villanueva and Jason Maxiell. I’m assuming they’ll use the amnesty clause to get out from one of their bad contracts, but this has “mess” written all over it unless the Pistons get some lottery luck or can hit a home run on Draft night.
Just so you know, Scott and I aren’t available to post our thoughts on this game, but we’ll be back with a thread and recap for Monday’s game in Milwaukee.
Lastly, if you need any more indication that this game is basically a Tank-fest, I just read on twitter that MC Hammer will be performing at halftime in Detroit.
P.S. - Jonas Valanciunas’ Lietuvos Rytas team won a big game yesterday to advance to the VTB United League (think of it like a basketball champions league for teams in Northeastern Europe) semifinals. Valanciunas posted 20 points (on 6-of-9 shooting) to go along with nine rebounds, two assists and a couple of blocks (plus three fouls) in about 27 minutes of action.