Can Amir Johnson show the Pistons what they are missing tonight just like Darko Milicic did last night?

Essentials

Teams: Toronto Raptors at Detroit Pistons

Date: Dec. 11, 2010

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Television: Fox Sports Detroit

Records

Pistons: 7-17

Raptors: 8-15

Probable starters

Pistons:

Raptors:

  • Jose Calderon
  • DeMar DeRozan
  • Sonny Weems
  • Amir Johnson
  • Andrea Bargnani

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Pistons – 1.5

Over/under: 200

Score: Pistons win, 100.75-99.25

Three things to watch

1. Andrea Bargnani murdered the Pistons last year.

Bargnani averaged about 23 points per game against Detroit and shot nearly 60 percent in three games last season. The Pistons simply refused to guard him out to the 3-point line most of those games, and there was a good reason for it. When they did guard him out to the line, he put the ball on the floor and drove past all of their big men. It helped him last year that Detroit paid so much attention to Chris Bosh in those games, but if they don’t keep Bargnani relatively in check and the game becomes and up-and-down game, the Pistons can’t win.

2. What will Amir do?

For the second straight night, the Pistons face a former Piston big man project in Amir Johnson. Last night, Darko Milicic blocked seven shots and looked great defensively. Johnson has been starting for the Raptors and playing well, averaging 9 points, 6 boards and a block in about 21 minutes a night while shooting 59 percent.

Johnson had one of his best games of last season against the Pistons because he’s athletic and loves to run the floor. The Pistons bigs are still deficient when it comes to chasing opposing bigs who like to run, so Amir could have another good performance tonight if he comes out with energy. The key, as always, is to get him in foul trouble. He’s still averaging nearly 4 fouls per game in those 21 minutes he’s playing.

3. Can Stuckey bounce back?

I’m not talking about his offense. Stuckey had a terrible defensive effort against Minnesota’s Luke Ridnour last night. The Raptors have a point guard similar to Ridnour in Jose Calderon. Calderon is steady, doesn’t turn it over much, runs their offense well and is a great 3-point shooter who is not afraid to pull up and shoot early in the shot clock if you fall asleep on him as Stuckey did against Ridnour last night. If Calderon is able to gash up the Pistons defense the way Ridnour did, the Raptors have enough good shooters to make this game get out of hand really quickly.

Pregame Reading

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