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Pistons vs Wizards preview: Detroit battles Washington to keep playoff embers burning

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Both of these teams haven’t hit their ceilings - which one can afford hitting the floor?

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Washington Wizards Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Despite losing in an excruciating manner to the Sacramento Kings Saturday night, the Detroit Pistons remain just a game and a half out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The playoffs remain tantalizingly close, if the Pistons can just... play slightly better.

The Washington Wizards, despite everything that has happened to THEM this season - adding Dwight Howard, starting slowly, trading for Trevor Ariza only for him to slash 36/30/79, losing John Wall to heel surgery - are just a game behind the Pistons, two and a half games out of the playoff mix.

Both of these teams have the talent, but neither has put it all together yet. Which team can avoid playing beneath their capability and take home a win?

Game Vitals:

When: January 21, 2 p.m. EST
Where: Capital One Arena, Washington DC
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit, NBA League Pass

Analysis:

The Wizards have had an odd run of things lately. Lose a double-overtime classic to the top-of-conference Toronto Raptors by a mere two points, then require a walk-off goaltend to beat the bottom-dwelling New York Knicks. Lose to the Philadelphia 76ers by 17 one night, beat the Philadephia 76ers by 17 ... the literal next night.

Like I said, odd.

Washington’s one constant has been the play of Bradley Beal, who is having an All-Star caliber season. Beal is averaging a career-high 25 points and five assists a game, and has become the whole of the Wizards’ offense in the absence of John Wall. Scroll down and check out the Wizards’ projected starting lineup. Seriously, go do it and come back.

....

Ugly, right?

The Wizards’ next highest point-per-game player is the aforementioned disappointing Trevor Ariza. Otto Porter comes off the bench now, for some reason. It’s Marcus Morris’ turn to wield the combined power of the Morris twins.

This should absolutely be a game the Pistons take. Unfortunately, those have often been the scariest games to watch this season.

Without Andre Drummond, Detroit still managed to win the rebounding battle against the Kings, 46-39. However, I don’t know if you can rely on Zaza Pachulia grabbing six offensive rebounds every night. If Andre doesn’t play, it’ll take a team effort on the glass this afternoon to prevent the Wizards from seizing the extra possessions it may take to win this game. That, and better perimeter defense than the Pistons showed in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter against the Kings.

...I don’t care what the L2M says, it was a double dribble.

Projected Lineups:

Detroit (20-25):
Reggie Jackson, Bruce Brown Jr., Reggie Bullock, Blake Griffin, Zaza Pachulia

Washington Wizards (19-26):
Tomas Satoransky, Bradley Beal, Jeff Green, Trevor Ariza, Thomas Bryant

Prediction:

Detroit 110, Washington 106

Question of the Day:

After the game, how are you going to spend your day off? If you’re not sure, I have a suggestion.