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Detroit Smallball invades our nation’s capital

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Detroit's new-look starting lineup (which has been such a hit with the local media) makes its' debut tonight in D.C. Also, Antonio! Thanks again to Kevin for the preview -- the ball tips at 7 PM (beware the sneaky early-ish start time!), leave your thoughts in the comments. -- MW

By Kevin Sawyer

Wizards: 3-15 (2-8 home)
Margin: -4.8 ppg (-5.6 home)
Last 10: 2-8 (margin -1.1)

Pistons: 11-8 (6-4 away)
Margin: -0.2 ppg (-0.2 away)
Last 10: 4-6 (margin -4.7)

Oppo research:

The Wizards aren’t as bad as they look, having nearly beaten the Lakers and Trail Blazers during a recent homestand. Without Gilbert Arenas, the loss of Brendan Haywood seems to have been some tipping point into the abyss. Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison continue to play like the all-star reserves they are but this team is short-staffed. That said, they’ve arguably outplayed the Pistons over the last ten games.

For Washington, the problem is at the low end of the rotation. DeShawn Stevenson has no business earning 30 minutes per game. When your starting two is shooting 33%, you’re not winning games. Nick Young has done more than enough to earn the starting gig, and he torched us for 25 points in our last meeting, so I’m content to let him ride the pine.

Flint native Javale McGee has been a revelation, but has lost minutes in recent games for no apparent reason. Andray Blatche (the Wizards’ answer to Amir) has played well, but Etan Thomas (the Wizards’ answer to Kwame Brown?) has struggled to regain his pre-injury form.

I suppose you could say that the Wizards are an up-tempo team, but they have found a way to lose at any tempo. That’s happen when you don’t play defense. Washington ranks 3rd from the bottom of the league in defensive efficiency.

The Drama:

McDyess is back! Oh, and Juan Dixon was on our team for awhile.

Keys for Detroit:

Get off on the right foot: Washington is a terrible defensive squad, but the Pistons aren’t scoring on anyone if they begin like they did against the Knicks. Rodney Stuckey should be able to pick apart this defense, and should do so early. There is not excuse for a shooting slump against a team that allows opponents to shoot 48%.

Don’t sleep on the young guys: Jamison and Butler can have a huge night, and Washington can still lose. Young, Blatche, and McGee can put together big nights if left unattended, and Washington is a much different team when they do so.

Make ‘em beat you from outside: Washington shoots 32% from three point range on the season. If Curry has a zone defense in his back pocket, now would be the time to introduce it. One thing Washington doesn’t do is turn the ball over. Playing the passing lanes allows them to get to the basket, where they are much more effective. Stay in front of them, and you’ll stop them.

Question of the game:

Can McDyess make an instant impact? Dyess’ return potentially addresses a number of pressing issues, including rebounding and mid-range scoring. Here’s hoping he’s been staying in game shape.