Game tips at 6:00 pm ET - NBA TV
Washington: 7-11 (3-6 road)
Pistons: 7-12 (5-4 home)
On paper, the Wizards are a pretty formidable team. The core of Arenas, Jamison and Butler is healthy. Brendan Haywood is back, and averaging a double-double. Youngsters Andray Blatche and Javale McGee look like the future up front. The team added solid rotation players in Randy Foye and Mike Miller. And yet, they are battling a hobbled Pistons team for a meaningless 8th seed in the East.
The problem is at the top and bottom of the rotation. Caron Butler has been awful, and is blaming Gilbert Arenas, who has been slightly better than average. Meanwhile, coach Flip Saunders is only now phasing out duds like Fabricio Oberto and DeShawn Stevenson. As a result, the Wizards haven't put the ball in the hope with any real frequency.
I'd expect that to change to some degree. Gilbert Arenas is still coming back from a long hiatus, and Butler can't be this bad. You have to figure they'll find more ways to get Mike Miller (TS% 73.3) the ball. The last few games have seen improvement, and Detroit would do well not to take this opponent lightly.
Flip's back, and he's found his Amir Johnson in Javale McGee.
Keys for Detroit
Manage something from the three point range: I have the feeling I can cut and paste this one for the rest of the year. The Wizards have been especially vulnerable on the perimeter, and it's not like Ben Gordon has full mobility anyway. Light it up.
On the other hand: The Wizards are quick to rely on outside shooting, and have had little success with it. They are a perimeter-oriented team without perimeter weapons. Keep it that way.
Keep the ball moving: Friday's win against the Bucks saw some great ball movement and 28 assists. Little wonder, then, that Detroit shot 58% as a team.
Question of the Game
Does MFWB stand for Missed Field-Goal Will Bynum? He has been out of sorts lately, and it's starting to look like opposing teams are getting the joke with him. That being the case, the outside game becomes all the more crucial. On Friday, the Pistons missed two great looks from outside that were set up by Bynum dribble drives. In the long run, that's unacceptable.