Is there anything more thrilling than two bottom-five Eastern Conference teams who have already basically admitted defeat on the season facing off on a snowy mid-February day? Anything? What if I told you that this rare jewel of a game between the Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards was happening on Valentine’s Day? Would you choo-choo-choose it?
When: 7 p.m. ET
Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, DC
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +4.5
Both the Pistons and Wizards are getting looks at the new big men they secured at the NBA trade deadline, but the newest Wizards — surprise surprise — is ailing.
The Wizards sort of shocked the NBA (and, I think, made a smart trade) when they shipped off two players playing really poorly on long-term deals (Davis Bertans and Spencer Dinwiddie) for beleaguered big man Kristaps Porzingis. The former Robin to Luka Doncic’s Batman in Dallas, things never really meshed. From Washington’s perspective, it was likely a bit of addition by subtraction — Porzingis seemed annoyed he was not just a second banana to Doncic, but one of those bananas neglected and getting black spots and everyone commenting that, sure, it’s still edible but it looks disgusting.
They probably also likely saw a player who is unreliable due to injury issues, might not be playable on the defensive end much in the playoffs, meaning his offense wouldn’t be there to offset his deficiencies. It’s easier to throw another team’s cast-offs deeper into the rotation without souring the locker room.
Detroit, meanwhile, got Marvin Bagley III, and he should be good to go tonight. The former No. 2 pick is Troy Weaver’s latest reclamation project. The Pistons and their fans are hoping this project goes much more like the Christian Wood revival than the Jahlil Okafor disappointment. Bagley’s defense is no great shakes, and he seemed to get lost in the offense in Sacaramento. For Detroit, he’ll likely have a chance to share big-man duties with Kelly Olynyk off the bench with some responsibilities to space the floor ala Trey Lyles but with a much greater emphasis on attacking, driving, cutting and maybe even rolling off the pick and roll to help out Detroit’s young guards.
The Pistons have given up more than 115 points in four straight games including 132 and 141 against the Memphis Grizzlies and Charlotte Hornets, respectively. They don’t look like they’ve quit on their coach or their season quite yet, but those kinds of performances really can’t continue. Luckily, the Wizards have a bottom-10 offense (and defense) so this one could at least be a respectable (if unwatchable) outing.
Detroit Pistons (12-44)
Cory Joseph, Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Isaiah Stewart
Washington Wizards (25-30)
Raul Neto, Corey Kispert, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Thomas Bryant
Question of the Game
Will Marvin Bagley finish an alley-oop dunk in his first game as a Detroit Piston?