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Pistons vs Wizards preview: Coming home again

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The Pistons will begin their season-determining stretch of home games on national TV

NBA: Washington Wizards at Detroit Pistons Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The 22-21 Detroit Pistons are currently out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, but they play 13 of their next 15 games at home, where they have been measurably better this season:

The bulk of those numbers were obtained with a more healthy squad. Reggie Jackson and Jon Leuer are still out with ankle injuries (and it sounds like the Pistons aren’t planning on having Leuer back anytime soon), Avery Bradley received an injection to assist with his recurring groin injury yesterday, and the availability of Luke Kennard (hand) and Stanley Johnson (hip flexor) is still uncertain.

Will the “Next Man Up” version of the Pistons be able to make a push back into a solid playoff spot during this homestand? We’ve got to just watch the games like everyone else, starting with tonight’s game against the Washington Wizards.

Game Vitals:

When: Friday, January 19, 8:00 p.m. EST
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Watch: ESPN
Wager: Detroit +1.0

Analysis:

The Pistons are coming off a strange loss to the Toronto Raptors. It felt very much like they “blew” a game no one should have expected them to win anyway. Andre Drummond finished slowly and started worse, but in the middle he was downright dominant for Detroit, finishing with 25 points, 17 rebounds, and four steals.

SVG’s mantra throughout the year has been the Pistons should defend better - as if the Pistons aren’t a top-10 team in defensive rating and a bottom-10 team in offensive rating. Thankfully, the Pistons’ injury troubles did cause a few lineup shifts. In Toronto, we saw the return of both Boban Marjanovic and Langston Galloway to the rotation. Two offense-first guys returning when the Pistons have been killing themselves trying to put the ball through the basket was a welcome change of mentality for Stan Van Gundy.

The Wizards are coming off a puzzling loss of their own, a 133-109 loss to the Charlotte Hornets (hey, it’s a meeting of the “We got blown out by Charlotte?” club) where they gave up 77 points in the first half. Washington tends to run hot and cold - they have been blown out by the likes of Utah, Brooklyn, and Charlotte, but have also beaten Boston and Minnesota on the road.

Part of Washington’s inconsistency can be laid at the feet of mercurial Markeiff Morris, who started the season late after delaying sports hernia surgery. Morris is slashing 47/38/80, but he has a negative net rating (-1.4) on the season. He’s had his moments, but... well, I’ll let SB Nation’s Mike Prada say it:

(Mike Scott has a positive 1.0 net rating this season, btw.)

Even if Morris isn’t at his best, the Wizards can still hurt you with their (potential All-Star) backcourt duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal and the overpaid (but not overrated) Otto Porter. Avery Bradley, if he plays, can only guard one of those guys - this is another matchup where Stanley Johnson’s defense would be sorely appreciated.

Projected Lineups:

Detroit:
Ish Smith, Avery Bradley, Reggie Bullock, Tobias Harris, Andre Drummond

Washington:
John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Markieff Morris, Marcin Gortat

Prediction:

Detroit 104, Wizards 110