The Detroit Pistons have won 12 games this season, the fewest in the Eastern Conference.
Two of those victories, however, have come against Toronto, and the Pistons can sweep the three-game season series with a home win against the Raptors on Monday.
Toronto was severely short-handed in the first meeting this month due to the league’s health and safety protocols, as Detroit romped 129-105 at the Raptors’ temporary home in Tampa on March 3.
Most of the Raptors’ regulars were in action for the rematch on March 17, when Detroit pulled out a 116-112 home win.
The series finale begins a four-game homestand for the Pistons, who have lost four straight. They took Brooklyn to the wire on Friday, losing by two points, then played woefully in the first half of a 106-92 defeat at Washington on Saturday.
The Pistons trailed by 27 points at halftime and 30 three minutes into the second half before staging a furious rally. They got as close as three points early in the fourth quarter, then went scoreless for nearly five minutes.
Coach Dwane Casey was furious with his team at halftime and a little more forgiving afterward.
“We went on a 31-5 run, something like that, and showed exactly who we should be,” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to build here. Whether it’s a back to back, whatever the issue is with our schedule, it doesn’t matter. We’re all professionals.”
They made the run without their leading scorer, forward Jerami Grant, who exited with a left quad contusion early in the second half. Grant is questionable to play on Monday.
“What I remember is just Coach got on us at halftime,” rookie center Isaiah Stewart said. “We weren’t playing hard at all as a group and we all agreed to that. We all came out in the second half and tried to make that change to turn the lead around.”
The Pistons’ rotation has changed frequently due to injuries and trades. Second-round pick Saben Lee made his first career start at point guard against the Wizards. Cory Joseph, acquired from Sacramento on Thursday, played 29 minutes off the bench. Tyler Cook, who is on a 10-day contract, received 16 minutes of playing time.
The Raptors have lost 11 of their last 12. They’ll be playing the second game of a back-to-back. Toronto lost to Portland 122-117 on Sunday night.
The Raptors’ downfall was a 10-point third quarter after they scored 74 points in the first half.
“We did some good things,” coach Nick Nurse said. “Dried up a little bit offensively in one quarter or we probably have a chance at a different result.”
Point guard Kyle Lowry missed the game with a foot injury, but Nurse said there’s a chance he could play on Monday.
Shooting guard Gary Trent Jr., acquired from Portland on Thursday, shot 2-for-10 from the field and scored only six points in 28 minutes. Rodney Hood, another player included in the deal, had 13 points off the bench.
“You can’t really wait (to play them regularly) because the games are coming,” Nurse said. “You’ve got to do the best you can while you go (along). Can’t use that as an excuse.”
–Field Level Media