USA TODAY Sports
Washington has been quite accommodating to the Pistons this season. They offered a pair of blowout wins to end a rough six game losing streak for the Pistons, then helped fan playoff delusions a couple of weeks ago. They might ask for payment tonight.
Detroit Pistons: 22-37 (7-19 road)
Washington Wizards: 18-37 (13-15 home)
Detroit Pistons tickets
After a miserable start decimated by injuries, the Wizards are coming on strong. They've won 7 of their last 9, one of those losses coming against the Pistons. Meanwhile, the Pistons are reeling. The best they could muster in a two game set against the Pacers was a 28 point loss, and only Jonas kept Monday's game against the Hawks from being aesthetically unpleasant.
Geez-o-wiz Bradley Beal. If you didn't realize that since returning full force from his latest injury he's put up 20 points per game on 62% TS with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal and a block over the past six games, I'm right there with you. He's tearing stuff up and could be a ROTY force to be reckoned with down the stretch.
But there's quite a bit else that the Wizards have going for them as well that might have gone under the radar. Did you know that since swapping spots at the starting small forward role Trevor Ariza's TS has jumped from 43% to 56% while starter Martell Webster is putting up 62.4% for the season? That Emeka Okafor has quietly turned his season around, putting up 11 and 11 over the past 20 games? And that Nene is back to his deadly efficient self, putting up 13/8/3 with 54% from the field over the past nine games?
And that's before getting into John Wall. I'll be honest, I don't know what the hell to think of this guy. He's not my type of point guard. His usage rate is too high, his shooting percentages too low, he's annually going to contend for the league leader in turnovers. But he should be killing his team, and he's not. They're winning despite resoundingly poor play out of him, play that would suggest quantitatively A.J. friggin Price was the better point guard. Heck if I understand it.
For the Pistons' side, despite the struggles we haven't been all that bad. Moose is still moosey, putting up 15.6/10.5/3.9 over the past 10 games. Jose is still awesome. Stuckey has one of his patented little strong runs going, with 54% TS over his last 9. And perhaps Jonas, who now is apparently firmly entrenched in the rotation, can build on his fantastic 16 point 4th quarter performance on Monday.
It hasn't been a fun past few games to watch. But tonight should be worth joining in for.
Keys to the game
Depth: Getting Bynum back will be huge, and hopefully Knight into the fold as well. As nice as it was to see playing time for the rookies, three of English, Middleton, Singler, and Ktrl+V group were all playing at the same time for extended minutes against Atlanta, and that sunk the game. They were completely overmatched.
Bebounds: In three games against the Wiz, the Pistons have a 43 rebound advantage. !!!!. If we're going to win, that's where it'll happen.
Lotto balls: Dang, doesn't it seem like there's been a ton of tough stretches in the schedule this year? We've got the Spurs, Knicks, Mavs, Clips, and Warriors looming. Not long ago we were talking about the playoffs. Now we're trying to stay ahead of the Wiz and Cavs for the bottom three in the East. But for a team rebuilding around cap space, an abysmal finish won't be a great thing. Let's win what we can.
Question of the game
Can Jonas take his spot? He's coming off his best game of the season and hasn't gotten much of an opportunity against the Wizards but it seems the type of game he can thrive in.