Even though the Pistons have lost their last two by inexplicably blowing double digit leads, I would still consider them to be pretty hot. Before those two losses, the Pistons had won 4 straight and Rip Hamilton was back starting and running the show. Another one of my favourite players, Hamilton has stamina for days and along with Iverson, could be the guy who works the hardest in the league at creating opportunities for himself. With the amount of running he does, you would think that he would switch out of his basketball shoes and put on a pair of Saucony’s.
The main problem for the Raptors going into this game (and really, you can choose from what is becoming an ever increasing list of problemes) is that the Raptors do not have anybody who can run with Rip all game. The Raptors D right now is embarrassing and when they have somebody like Hamilton running around out there, a lot of holes are going to open up. The Raptors have not been hustling on D and if that has been exposed by some of the recent teams they have played, a team with Rip in the lineup is going to magnify where any of the issues are. It won’t be tough to see why the Raptors have gien up over 113 points per game during this losing streak.
But let’s not put all of the focus on Rip. Tayshaun Prince loves playing against the Raptors and you would if you were him too. Prince is shooting 72% from the field against the Raptors this season and has proven to be a major problem for the Raptors D. With the Pistons’ depth being questioned lately, you would have to think that Tayshaun is going to see a lot of the ball, which is bad news for the Raps.
Well, when Shawn Marion called out the Raptors a few weeks ago, they responded with some better play, so when Pops calls a team out…well, what can we really hope for? Some of the guys on the team probably still don’t even know who Pops is. But Pops is right and you have to commend a guy who just joins a team and isn’t afraid to make his voice heard. Pops thinks guys are dogging it and he just came out and said it. Good for him. Now as far as anyone responding, well, we’ll have to see.
3 in the Key
1. There are going to be two focal points, Prince and Hamilton. The Raptors are going to have to be ready to do some hard work on D to keep up with these guys.
2. The Raptors will need to attack early and try to draw some fouls. The Pistons don’t have the most depth around, so the faster you can get to their bench, the better.
3. Can we find some consistent minutes for Roko in this game? It can’t end with a result any worse than what anybody is expecting.