By Kevin Sawyer
Wizards: 4-18 (1-8 road)
Margin: -6.5 ppg (-6.2 road)
Last 10: 2-8 (margin -7.0)
Pistons: 13-9 (6-4 home)
Margin: -0.4 ppg (+1.0 home))
Last 10: 5-5 (margin -2.3)
This isn’t precisely the same team that came back from behind to beat us last week. They now have Mike James and Javaris Crittenton instead of Antonio Daniels. I’d laugh if we hadn’t gotten torched by Darius Songaila and Juan Dixon the last time.
More interesting is Andray Blatche’s move to the starting lineup in place of center JaVale McGee. Blatche is an impressive talent. A young, athletic (albeit foul prone) power forward who gave us some problems last week, Blatche seems as though he could put up some big numbers. If only we had a guy on our roster who could match up with him.
Other than that, this team isn’t any better than they were when they beat us last week. In fact, they are arguable worse, and they are on the road. Without Gilbert Arenas, it’s the Butler-Jamison show. Last week, we split the difference between the two semi-stars. Butler was awesome, Jamison terrible. Expect a similar result.
Mike James returns to the Palace, but really, aren’t the Pistons providing all the drama we need? Allen Iverson got a fine for heckling a spectator. Yeah, that’s what we pay him for.
Keys for Detroit:
Manage the pace: The Pistons are unquestionably the superior basketball team here. They should (again) be able to ring up some big points early against a lousy defense. The key will be controlling the tempo once we have a lead.
Don’t sleep on anyone: Seriously. Darius Songaila and Juan Dixon.
Keep Butler off the free throw stripe: The Pistons seem to believe that the most effective way to stop dribble penetration is to foul. Coincidentally, opposing players find that the most effective way to score against the Pistons is to get to the line. A free throw contest turns this game into a tossup.
Question of the game:
Can Stuckey keep it up? He’s been marvelous the last several games as he has learned how to pass out of bad situations in the lane. He had a double-double last week against the Wiz, so he should be feeling plenty confident.