Well, would you look at that:
Despite everything that’s happened in this at-times-unwatchable season, the Detroit Pistons find themselves squarely back in the playoff picture. They’ve won three straight games, four out of their last five, and, according to Tankathon, they have the ninth-easiest schedule for the rest of the season.
If the Pistons want to continue their momentum, they have to come out and play hard every night, including tonight against the Washington Wizards.
When: February 11, 7:00 p.m.
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit, NBA League Pass
The Washington Wizards find themselves in much the same place the Pistons did a few weeks ago - still hanging on the fringes of the playoff picture, where a good two weeks can propel you forward and a bad week can submarine your season. The moves the Wizards made at the deadline lean in the downward direction - Washington traded Otto Porter Jr. for Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker, and a second-round pick, then subsequently traded Markieff Morris (and a second!) for Wesley Johnson to eclipse the luxury tax. All of that, of course, was in the wake of the franchise-altering news that John Wall had ruptured his Achilles, ending his season immediately and probably putting him out until the 2020-21 season.
(If you have a subscription, you should absolutely read the piece The Athletic’s Michael Lee wrote about the immediate evaluation of Wall’s injury through the lens of his contract rather than his humanity.)
Without Porter, Morris, or Wall, the full weight of carrying the Wizards has fallen on the shoulders of Bradley Beal. Beal is having a career year in scoring (25 points per game on 47/35/80 and the highest usage of his career), but the surrounding cast has not supported him as much as needed to keep Washington afloat. Perhaps Parker and Portis can help in that department - Jabari, in particular, looked to be out for blood in his first game as a Wizard:
Speaking of guys who haven’t gotten enough support this season, the Washington Wizards have no one on the roster capable of giving Blake Griffin trouble defensively, which has been the shorthand for whether or not the Pistons are capable of winning. However, it’s been far from Blake and The Blakettes lately for Detroit. Reggie Jackson healthier play in the last seven games has spurred a more efficient Andre Drummond, which has made things easier for Blake, which has made things easier for everyone else on the roster.
Of course, playing the Knicks twice in a week makes things easier for everyone anyway.
The Wizards will be a good test of where the Pistons are. Is their precarious playoff position solely due to a recent run of easier games, or has something clicked for this team? Is it due to Reggie Jackson’s renewed sense of ability in the pick and roll, or is it due to Miami going 3-7 in their last 10 games in the midst of a West Coast trip? The Pistons will get a more clear answer after tonight.
Detroit Pistons (25-29):
Reggie Jackson, Langston Galloway, Bruce Brown Jr., Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond
Washington Wizards (24-32):
Chasson Randle, Bradley Beal, Jeff Green, Trevor Ariza, Thomas Bryant
Detroit 109, Washington 105