Tonight at 8:00pm EST the Pistons will be hosting the Washington Wizards at the LCA on ESPN. The Pistons are on one day of rest after losing to the Raptors as are the Wizards after losing to the Hornets. (who have suddenly won 5 of their last 7 btw)
The Wizards are a good team that struggles to keep their intensity high and also are rather susceptible to injuries given a lack of depth. They come into this game featuring the 11th best offense in the NBA at 106.4 points per 100 possessions and the 11th best defense at 104.9 points per 100 possessions which is good for the 9th best net rating of +1.6.
For the second straight game the Pistons will be going against an excellent back court. John Wall is a phenomenal playmaker who's violent drives wreck havoc on opposing defenses on his way to 9.3 assists per game, and while his focus is not always all the way there on defense he is generally good and occasionally great on that end. The downside to Wall is that he continues to not be all that good a shooter and his scoring is very inefficient. Bradley Beal is his mate in the backcourt and he is basically the yin to Wall's yang. Beal is a sweet shooting, smooth moving guard. Beal's three point percentage is down a bit from previous years but he takes a ton of them and many are high difficulty, he has also improved his ball handling and playmaking to be a real threat out of pick and rolls and as an attacker of the hoop, while also being a long armed defender. They both have some flaws, but they are both excellent players.
Beyond them the Wizards continue to support them with a killer starting lineup. Otto Porter is a role player but may well be in the conversation for best role player in the NBA. Dude defends, rebounds, and never freaking misses on his way to a 3 point percentage of 42.5%. Marcin Gortat has fallen off a bit this year but he still sets great screens, has good touch around the basket, and is generally in the right place on defense. Markieff Morris has finally started to find his way after being injured to start the season, he is a tough isolation scorer, defender, and rebounder much in the same vein as his twin that Pistons fans are familiar with.
The Wizards have found some stability off the bench this year even if it is still a weak point. Kelly Oubre is a tenacious collection of swiping and swatting limbs and has found some basic offensive game although his offense has slowly declined as his minutes with Wall decrease. Mike Scott is having a career year shooting 44% from deep and continuing to do fun things as a sort of ball handling and bouncy power forward. Tomas Satoransky is a goofy player who may or may not actually be good, sometimes he looks very good and sometimes he looks like a 6'7 white dude who just wandered onto the court. Jodie Meeks is here but is shooting just 31% from deep, Tim Frazier has been mostly bad, Ian Mahinmi has picked up a little bit after a terrible start but he's also been bad.
All in all this is a very solid team. They have a pair of stars and a starting lineup that can compete with anyone, and while the bench remains an issue they have some competency with oubre and Scott.
Matchups to watch:
Drummond vs. Pick and Rolls: Wall and Gortat continue to be one of the best pick and roll combinations in the NBA by both volume and effectiveness. Wall is a blur, and Gortat is smart and skilled. Drummond's ability to defend pick and rolls has been his biggest defensive improvement this year, and he will be very tested in this one. Stopping that pick and roll is the Pistons first job, and it falls largely on him.
Bradley vs. Beal (lol): Beal is a bit bigger than Avery but given how well he handled DeRozan in the last game I'm not so worried about that now. If Avery (and everyone else) can keep Beal in check then it will put more pressure on Wall to score, which is generally a good thing.
Ish Smith vs. Hitting a shot occasionally: Please don't go 1-12 and 1-4 from the line again. Please.
Tobias Harris vs. Bouncing back: It will be tough given that the Wizards have 3 guys who should be able to keep up with him defensively, but Harris has had two straight rough games and will need to bounce back. Especially with Jackson out, the Pistons have no scheme to counter Tobias playing poorly.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Avery Bradley is stealing Beal's soul.
John Wall is forcing bad shots, and missing.
Tobias Harris bursts triumphantly from his two game slump.
Run for the hills if:
John Wall is getting layups.
Ish Smith and/or Avery Bradley are taking lots of long twos. (oh wait this is for sure going to happen no matter what lolkillmeplz)
The Pistonss bench gets outplayed by the Wizards' bench again.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Otto Porter scores a bunch.
Ish Smith finds his shot back.
Reggie Bullock scores 20+
The Pistons play strong defense the entire game and shoot well from deep on their way to a victory.
Pistons 105 – Wizards 97.
What do you think? Can Tobias bounce back? Can the Pistons contain Wall and Beal?