The Detroit Pistons look to notch their fifth straight victory at home against the Washington Wizards. The Pistons are hitting a soft spot in their schedule and they have taken advantage, with wins against the Milwaukee Bucks, New Orleans, New Jersey and New Jersey again. The Wizards are actually worse than anyone Detroit has faced on their winning streak, but that doesn't mean a victory is assured.
Game Tips at 6:00 P.M. EST
Washington Wizards: 5 - 22 (1 - 10 road)
Detroit Pistons: 8 - 20 (6 - 8 home)
Stop me if you've heard this one before -- two of the five worst teams in the NBA square off tonight at the Palace of Auburn Hills. But in a rare turn, the Pistons are actually favored to win. But to come out with their first five-game winning streak since 2009, Detroit will have to continue executing the way they have in their previous four contests. That means taking care of the basketball, outscoring their opponent in the paint, not giving up too many second-chance opportunities and getting quality production from their bench, particularly Ben Gordon and Jonas Jerebko.
While Washington has lost six of its last seven games, the Wizards have actually been playing much better basketball recently. During that run they've lost games to Chicago Bulls, Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat and New York
Keys to the Game:
Battle of Calipari point guards: John Wall has not taken the leap forward many expected following his rookie season, but in the past five games he is averaging 20 points and seven assists on 53 percent shooting. If Wall and the Wizards are able to get out and run they are extremely effective. The Wizards are second in the NBA at 17.2 points per game on the fast break. Brandon Knight and company need to keep the Wiz in a half-court offense, where they are much less effective.
Offensively, Brandon Knight, Wall's successor at Kentucky, needs to continue to limit his turnovers (only six in the four-game winning streak, and three of those came in the first quarter of Knight's first game with his new mask), hit his three-point shots and look for open teammates. The Wizards are not a good defensive team, but they do block shots. While the PIstons have the advantage of Andray Blatche being out with an injury, Javale McGee can easily swat six or seven shots.
Monroe must go to work inside - McGee can pose problems for Greg Monroe, but Moose can't let McGee's length bother him. While McGree, a Flint native, stands at 7 feet tall, he's an unwilling defender who will give up positioning and can be outmuscled on the block. Monroe can face up and use his sneaky first step to get past him or back him down and position himself for a high-percentage shot near the rim.
Don't loose sight of Young - Nick Young is a shooter, and he's going to take his shots whether he's having a good night or a bad night. If the Pistons play off of Knight to clog up the middle to prevent Wall from driving into the lane, Young could go off. If the Pistons keep a body on him and don't give him a clean look he will go 4-for-15 and be a nonfactor.
But really don't lose sight of Booker - Honestly, I don't know a lot about Trevor Booker. But he seems to be the kind of player the Wizards sorely need. A guy comfortable taking three shots or 13 shots, but also one who will shoot a high percentage no matter what. With Blatche injured, Booker has been logging major minutes at the power forward slot. In his last 10 games he is averaging 11 points per game on an insane 64 percent shooting.
Question of the Game:
Which Kentucky Wildcat has a better game - John Wall or Brandon Knight?