Heyo, I'm back. Had a really nice trip, saw a good basketball and hockey game and ate some real good food.
Tonight at 6:00pm EST. The Pistons will be hosting the Washington Bullets at the Palace. The Pistons are on 2 days of rest after crushing the Hawks on Wednesday. The Bullets are on one day of rest after beating the Knicks on Thursday, and it is their 3rd game in 4 nights.
The Wizards are good. They started off the year very poorly at 2-8 and have put it together since then. They have a very good offense with an efficiency of 106.6, and their defense is a bit leaky at 105.9. They are very dependent on a excellent starting lineup, lead by John Wall at point guard who is probably underrated at this point. 23.1 points and 10.1 assists per game is pretty remarkable and his issues with efficiency are pretty overstated. He also plays monstrous defense just for good measure. Bradley Beal has mostly avoided the injury bug this year (knock on wood) and is making good on his fat new contract. He is scoring 21.8 points per game and 3.6 assists and really works well as a partner with John Wall. Beal is an absolute sniper so he can play off of Wall very well (and give Wall extra space to operate) while also being a capable enough ball handler that he can take some pressure off of Wall. Otto Porter is making good on a contract year by looking like he may be one of the premier 3 and D wings in basketball, shooting 45.8%(!!!???) from 3 and 54% overall from the field, while also providing very good versatility on defense even if he isn't a super elite defender. Lesser Morris comes in at power forward and his game is very similar to his twin brother's except that Kieff spends more time closer to the hoop. (which is fine because he has an inch or two of height on Marcus) He likes his isolations but is a nice passer and general playmaker from the 4 spot. A real difference maker for Kieff has been his defensive effort, which has been really good lately. Marcin Gortat rounds out the starting lineup, and he is just a rock solid center all around. He is big, strong, smart, and skilled.
Outside of the starting lineup it gets a bit ugly for the Wizards, Kelly Oubre shows potential, but it is still just potential. Marcus Thornton is a chucker, Ian Mahimmi is hurt, Trey Burke is playing pretty decently but doesn't play much because he backs up John Wall, ditto for Jason Smith behind Gortat. They ride their starters a lot, and they win games off of their efforts. John Wall in a monster, Bradley Beal is a really good foil to him, and the Porter/Morris/Gortat trio are almost perfect as role players who can do a little bit of everything.
Matchups to watch:
Jackson vs. Wall: There is at least a little bit of a beef between these two, you can see it when they play. Wall is better than Jackson is, but Jackson is good enough that he can be better for a night occasionally. Jackson will have to be on his game on both ends of the court.
Andre vs. Gortat/Wall: Gortat is very good, and he has a lot fewer responsibilities than Drummond does and those types have been problematic for Andre. That said, Andre has done pretty well against Gortat in the past. The biggest task for Andre will be containing the Wall/Gortat pick and roll. Especially without KCP on Wall, Andre will have to pick up one of the fastest guys in basketball quite a bit. If any center in the NBA can come out on top in that situation, it is Andre, but he will have to be on his toes all night.
Jon Leuer vs. Being healthy: Leuer is supposedly going to be playing tonight. Just watch to see how he looks.
Reggie Bullock vs. God mode: When Bullock is on, he is truthfully an incredible offensive player. His combination of shooting and really smart cutting is incredibly tough to deal with, which when combined with Bradley Beal not always being the most attentive defender means that Bullock should get plenty of looks.
Morris twins: They probably will not actually end up against each other all that often, but it will at least a couple of times. It's just fun. Hopefully Marcus remains the greatest of the Morrii.
Stanley Johnson vs. Big boy assignments: Stanley is likely to get a lot of time against Wall and Beal tonight. Those are both very difficult assignments. He can't make too many young guy mistakes.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Reggie Bullock is raining death from 3 and cuts to the hoop.
Ish Smith sprints past a confused Trey Burke on a lot of possessions.
Run for the hills if:
John Wall is destroying Jackson on both ends of the court.
Bullock can't really keep with Beal.
Gortat is able to keep Andre in check.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Both Reggie's have good games.
Stanley Johnson looks awesome on defense.
The Pistons bench slaughters.
Pistons ride a couple of big runs when the bench mobs meet and win a close game.
What do you think? Can Jackson outplay Wall? Can Andre do all that he will be asked?