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Pistons vs. Wizards preview: Fastest team in East visits The Palace

Only the Golden State Warriors play at a faster pace than John Wall’s run-and-gun Washington squad, but the Wizards could be missing some of their firepower when they face Detroit on Saturday night.

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Fresh off a 96-86 victory in Minnesota on Friday night, the 7-5 Pistons host the Wizards, who have been idle since a 115-86 pummeling of Milwaukee. This game will be Detroit’s fourth back-to-back, whereas Washington has endured only two so far. But while the 5-4 Wizards have been resting (no other team has played so few games), two starters may be missing from their line-up.

Game Vitals

Where: The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI
When: Saturday, November 21, 2015, 7:30 PM EST
Watch: FSD Plus

Exceptionally Detailed Analysis

Washington made the playoffs last year, swept the Raptors 4-0 in the first round, and took the Hawks to six games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. They let Paul Pierce move to Los Angeles, but otherwise brought back the same team. They were 18th in pace in 2014-15, but this year coach Randy Wittman has his charges playing a much more up-tempo style. John Wall is third in the league with 8.6 assists per game, and is second on the Wizards with 17.6 points per game.

In the early going Bradley Beal has been outstanding, averaging 22.7 ppg and making triples at a .471 clip. He has missed three games with a bruised shoulder, but Beal went through a full practice Friday, and his availability would be a major boost to the D.C. cagers. If he’s unable to go, Garrett Temple will probably be his replacement. Otto Porter is also questionable with a leg injury. He’s become an efficient all-around performer at small forward, averaging 13.9 points, 4.9 boards, 2.6 assists and 1.8 steals.

Upfront Marcin Gortat mans the center position (10.9 ppg and 7.8 rpg) and Kris Humphries is contributing 9.7 ppg and shooting .471 from three. Their solid veteran bench includes Jared Dudley, Drew Gooden, Nene Hilario, Gary Neal and Ramon Sessions. Former Spur "Right DeJuan" Blair is also on the roster, along with rookie Kelly Oubre.

Detroit will be looking to extend its win streak to three after a huge come-from-behind home conquest of Cleveland and a road victory over long-time nemesis Minnesota. Reggie Jackson is leading the way with 20.4 ppg and 5.6 apg, but pick and roll partner Andre Drummond (19.3 ppg and 18.3 rpg) is equally indispensable. Drummond will be looking to extend his double-double streak to 13 games, which would tie Dave DeBusschere’s franchise record set in 1966-67.

The Pistons offense continues to struggle to score points, with surprisingly anemic 3-point shooting (.299) a major culprit. Only Ersan Ilyasova (.457) and Jackson (.353) are shooting over 30 percent. Rookie Stanley Johnson made three of five against the Timberwolves on his way to 15 points – his best outing since scoring 20 against the Warriors.

Lineup Projection

Pistons: Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Ersan Ilyasova, Andre Drummond

Wizards: John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr., Kris Humphries, Marcin Gortat

Injured/In Doubt

Pistons: Brandon Jennings (Achilles), Jodie Meeks (foot)

Wizards: Alan Anderson (ankle surgery), Bradley Beal (shoulder), Otto Porter (left leg), Martell Webster (hip-out for season)

Key Matchup

Reggie Jackson vs. John Wall

Wall was one of many who questioned whether Jackson deserved the five-year, $80-million contract that Stan Van Gundy awarded him in free agency. So it will be no surprise if each player sees tonight’s on-court battle as a personal challenge. Jackson has averaged 22.9 ppg (.464/.440/.825) and 6.4 apg in Detroit’s seven victories. While Drummond is certainly capable of overpowering Washington’s frontcourt, Jackson’s penetration off the pick and roll is often a key factor in setting up lobs or putting Drummond in position for tip-ins. On defense, Jackson needs to make Wall a jump-shooter, since he’s inefficient from outside of 10 feet.

Last Time We Met

February 28, 2015 at the Verizon Center, Wizards won 99-95

John Wall scored 22 points and Nene Hilario added 21, as Washington held off a fourth quarter comeback led by rookie Spencer Dinwiddie (20 points and eight assists). Greg Monroe scored 21 points to lead Detroit, which lost its third game in a row. The team would drop 10 straight, with seven of the losses coming on the road and three on the back end of back to backs.

Score Prediction

Pistons 101, Wizards 99

Community Question

Who gets more assists, Jackson or Wall?