It may still be a bit early to start dreaming up potential NBA Finals matchups, but the defending champion Detroit Pistons and league-leading San Antonio Spurs are certainly emerging as strong candidates to meet in June.
They’ll square off one final time in the regular season when the Spurs visit The Palace of Auburn Hills.
The Pistons ran their home winning streak to 11 games with Friday’s 103-92 win over Toronto. The franchise record for consecutive home wins is 25, established from Jan. 29-Nov. 21, 1989, the year they won their second of three NBA titles.
“I think we’re continuing in the right direction,” said Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince, who had 21 points Friday. “San Antonio is going to be a big game, but so is this one and every other one we play from here until the end of the season.”
Prince was one of three Pistons to score at least 20. Rasheed Wallace and Ben Wallace combined for 28 boards as the Pistons outrebounded the Raptors 55-40. Detroit also held a 48-28 scoring advantage in the paint.
Pistons assistant Gar Heard coached in place of Larry Brown, who is sidelined due to additional surgery on his ailing hip, for the third consecutive game. Heard doesn’t expect his team to have such an easy time Sunday. Detroit lost 80-77 at San Antonio on Dec. 3, shooting just 35.5 percent.
The Pistons and Spurs are the two best defensive teams in the league. San Antonio is allowing a league-low 86.5 points, followed by Detroit, which is giving up 89.2 per game.
“It’s going to be a different type of game,” Heard said Friday after the Pistons ran their win streak to four. “It’s going to be a much slower game against San Antonio.”
The Pistons have dropped 10 of their last 12 meetings with the Spurs, but boast a 9-2 home record this season against teams from the Western Conference.
The Spurs have won three in a row and eight of 10, including a 93-76 home win over expansion Charlotte on Friday.
San Antonio held Charlotte to 37.3 percent (28-for-75) shooting, marking the 25th time it has held the opposition below 40 percent this season.
Manu Ginobili, who is averaging 16.2 points, missed his fifth straight game due to a strained right groin.
Duncan is still second in the league in double-doubles with 44, trailing Minnesota’s Kevin Garnett, who has 58.
San Antonio is 22-4 against the East this season, including 8-4 on the road.