Wednesday’s NBA action starts with the Toronto Raptors visiting the Detroit Pistons, tipping off at 7 pm ET. The Eastern Conference battle sees two teams both currently out of the playoff picture.
The Raptors are 17-22 and just two games back of the eighth seed, while the Pistons are dead last in the East at 10-29.
The Raptors have dealt with their share of COVID-19 cases of late, missing multiple starters and contributors for the last few weeks. The absence and strain of the positive cases has led to a five-game losing streak.
Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Patrick McCaw and Malachi Flynn have all cleared COVID-19 protocol and are expected to return to the lineup for this Wednesday tilt against the Pistons. OG Anunoby remains out.
The Raptors’ most recent shorthanded loss was to the Chicago Bulls, as they fell 118-95. Norman Powell led the scoring with 32 points, and it was Powell’s fourth 30-point outing in his last six games.
Kyle Lowry chipped in 20 points and eight assists.
On the season, both VanVleet and Siakam lead the Raptors in scoring, with 20.1 points per game. Siakam is also the rebounding leader, with 7.5 per contest, while Lowry leads the team in dimes with 7.2 a game.
Looking around the league, Toronto is middling in most offensive and defensive categories. With reinforcements coming, the Raptors should be able to remain competitive in the wide-open Eastern Conference.
Toronto is 18-21 against the spread this season and 22-17 against over/unders.
Detroit has been one of the league’s worst teams this season, squarely in the basement of a weak Eastern Conference. The Pistons have lost four straight games, most recently to the San Antonio Spurs 109-99.
Shooting guard Josh Jackson paced the team in points in the loss, with 15 off the bench. Jerami Grant led the starters with 14. Center Mason Plumlee hauled in 12 boards to lead the team.
Detroit recently released Blake Griffin, who joined up with the Brooklyn Nets, leaving the Pistons without many notable names. Grant is the leader of this team, averaging 23.4 points per game on 43/35/87% shooting. Plumlee leads the team in rebounds, averaging 9.2, and Delon Wright is the leader in assists with 4.9.
At 10-29, it’s not a surprise to hear the Pistons struggle on both ends of the floor. They’re slightly worse on the offensive end, coming in around 24th in the NBA, while their defense is closer to 20th.
On the season, Detroit is 20-18-1 against the spread and 18-21 against over/unders.
The injection of juice from the four returning Toronto players to the lineup should provide a desperately needed spark for this reeling Raptors team.
With much more to play for and more consistency on both ends of the floor, the pick here is Toronto to cover.
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