Toronto at Detroit
Time: 7 PM CT (ESPN)
Spread: TOR -5.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Eastern Conference-leading Toronto Raptors have won five-straight and 14 of its past 16 games and now travel to Detroit to face Blake Griffin and the Pistons in the first of a Wednesday night ESPN doubleheader.
The Raptors are 5.5-point favorites in the game, according to NBA oddsmakers at bookmaker 5dimes. Detroit has lost its past three games and is 20-13 at home this season, while currently 4.5 games out of the No. 8 spot in the East.
Toronto is now gaining steam as a legitimate contender to take the Eastern Conference crown. The Raptors are 27-5 at home and 19-12 on the road, while having gone 30-8 against Eastern Conference teams this season. The Raptors are hot, their bench is deep, and the only real questions revolve around the past playoff failures of its outstanding backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Both are playing the best ball of their respective careers, but will it continue in the postseason?
DeRozan is averaging a career-high 23.7 points per game and tallying 5.2 assists from the 2-spot. Lowry is good for 16 points, 5.7 rebounds and 6.5 assists while posting a PER Of 19.2. The Raptors have a strong 11-man rotation, with all rotation players seeing at least 15 minutes per game. Serge Ibaka has declined as a defender, but is still a solid power forward and he is backed up by the promising Pascal Siakem.
Rookie OG Anunoby is a strong defender at the 3-spot, giving the Raptors essentially what it had hoped for when it parted ways with small forward DeMarre Carroll. The Raptors are a team nearly bereft of overt weaknesses. Jonas Valanciunas may not have improved much, but is a strong center and Jakob Poeltl is improving as a backup to Jonas in his sophomore season. CJ Miles is an outstanding role player and three-point marksman. There is just so much to love about the Raptors depth, it is really just a matter of whether DeRozan and Lowry can continue their respective stellar play past the end of the regular season. There is really no way to guess.
The Pistons have lost eight of its past 10, and its past three overall, and are now 29-35 overall on the season.
New acquisition Blake Griffin has somewhat struggled under Stan Van Gundy after flourishing his first several games. His averages of 17.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 5.8 assists have been done in 33 minutes a night, but he has a PER of just 14.6 since joining the Pistons.
Blake once paired nicely with DeAndre Jordan and now pairs just as formidable with Andre Drummond.
Drummond has already played a point-center role at times, functioning as a passer in pick and rolls, and graciously setting himself in high post situations. His game has grown. Together with Griffin, Detroit may have dialed up the best 1-2 big man combination outside of what the New Orleans Pelicans had prior to DeMarcus Cousins’ season-ending Achilles’ injury.
The Pistons will miss Bradley, but he really may have been a season rental at best as he is due to be a free agent and will command a max-contract most likely, as the trend has gone. Reggie Jackson is still functioning well as a scorer, but he has missed time with an ankle injury.
The Pistons said he is due to return soon, but he is likely still out for this game. When the Pistons insert his 15 points a night, they will only grow tougher to beat. The Pistons are one of the hottest teams in the league, and Griffin still is a superstar. He may have declined in popularity, in status, whatever— he is still one of the tops at his position and can potentially change the fate of Detroit.