The Toronto Raptors are still seeking improvement even though they own the Eastern Conference’s best record.
The Detroit Pistons are near the other end of the standings amid their worst single-season home losing streak in nearly half a century.
The Raptors will be in search of a fifth straight victory Friday night when they try to extend the Pistons’ home slide to 12 games.
Toronto (20-6) posted a 105-89 home win over Brooklyn on Wednesday, gaining a measure of revenge against the team that knocked it out of the playoffs a season ago. Kyle Lowry had 20 points and 12 assists, and Jonas Valanciunas added 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Raptors, who reached 20 wins quicker than any team in club history.
"My hat is off to (the players)," coach Dwane Casey said. "But everybody in that room knows there are a lot of areas where we can get better."
There are clearly plenty of areas where Detroit (5-21) can improve. The Pistons fell 117-106 to Dallas on Wednesday for their 11th consecutive defeat at The Palace of Auburn Hills, marking their longest single-season home skid since a franchise-record 15 straight Dec. 6, 1966-Jan. 31, 1967.
Trade rumors are swirling around the Pistons, with Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings reportedly being shopped.
Smith, the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.2 points per game, had seven points and four field-goal attempts Wednesday. It marked his lowest shot total since he took three April 13, 2011, with Atlanta.
Jennings, meanwhile, is shooting 24.1 percent in December for the lowest mark of any player with at least 50 attempts. He averaged 4.7 points during a string of seven straight games without reaching double digits before scoring 13 versus the Mavericks.
He could get untracked in the first game with Toronto since he averaged 21.0 points in last season’s three meetings in his point guard matchup with Lowry, who averaged 22.7 and 7.3 assists in those games.
The Raptors swept the series for the second time in their history, winning by an average of 14.7 points.
Pistons center Andre Drummond averaged 12.0 points and 14.0 rebounds last season against the Raptors. Drummond was spectacular Wednesday with 19 points and 24 rebounds – two shy of his career high.
"That was probably Andre’s best game of the season, and it is definitely the hardest he has played all year," coach Stan Van Gundy said. "He was getting up and down the floor and he was active on defense."
Drummond is among the NBA leaders with 12.3 rebounds per game and 14 double-doubles. He figures to be matched up with Valanciunas, who has half of his eight double-doubles in the Raptors’ last six games.
Toronto isn’t taking anything for granted heading into a weekend in which it faces two of the East’s worst teams, with New York visiting Sunday.
"Right now, my mind’s beginning to think about Detroit and what we can do tomorrow, what we can do in shootaround to get ready for Detroit," Casey said after Wednesday’s win. "We’ve got New York coming back through so we can’t rest and think about a rivalry or whoever we’re playing. We’ve got to go to next game."