The Toronto Raptors and Detroit Pistons are trying to get by without their top players. One of those teams will collect a much-needed victory when they meet in Detroit on Monday.
Toronto has lost three of its last four games and four of its last six. Forward Pascal Siakam has missed the last five games and will remain sidelined on Monday due to a right adductor strain.
The Raptors are also playing without forward Precious Achiuwa, who has partial ligament tears in his right ankle. Top guard Fred VanVleet didn’t suit up in a 118-104 loss at Indiana on Saturday due to a non-COVID illness.
Detroit has dropped three straight and is tied with Charlotte for the worst record in the Eastern Conference at 3-11. Franchise player and second-leading scorer Cade Cunningham has missed the last two games due to left shin soreness. The team announced prior to its 117-108 loss to Boston on Saturday that Cunningham will be sidelined at least three more games.
After allowing 132 points to Oklahoma City the previous night, the Raptors’ defense wasn’t much better against the Pacers. Indiana shot 50 percent from the field and racked up 33 assists on 41 baskets. Toronto did force 21 turnovers but gave 66 second-half points while squandering a 13-point halftime advantage.
“You’re on the road missing a bunch of guys. It’s really tough,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said. “I’m proud of the way these guys played (Saturday). I wasn’t very proud of the way they played (Friday) night. But that was just kind of maybe one of those nights but I’m proud I thought we fought like heck (Saturday). Did a lot of the things we’d like to do and just didn’t quite have enough juice in the end.”
Offensively, the perimeter game was severely lacking as the Raptors made just seven of 35 3-point attempts.
“I think that you’re never going to win a game when you get beat 19-7 on threes,” Nurse said. “It’s almost impossible to do that. A lot of those things happened in transition. A lot of them happened in the second half. I think they made a strong effort to really push it … I thought when we did get back we guarded them pretty good most of the night, but we weren’t getting back enough in transition.”
O.G. Anunoby tried to pick up the slack with 26 points, one off his season high, but Scottie Barnes was limited to eight points on 4-for-16 shooting.
Bojan Bogdanovic led Detroit with 28 points on Saturday and rookie Jaden Ivey had 26 but the Pistons couldn’t overcome a 43-point eruption from Celtics star Jayson Tatum.
Ivey, who had four turnovers, was upset with his play during crunch time.
“Just some mistakes offensively,” Ivey said. “Obviously, the ball went in but as far as turning over the ball, I feel like I let my teammates down.”
The Pistons will need big performances from their rookie floor leader to offset the temporary loss of Cunningham, who has battled shin pain since training camp.
“We’re being cautious. We’ve had some soreness and the medical team is working with him and treating it,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “It felt like giving those days off will help to alleviate the pain and soreness.”
–Field Level Media