After a blow out loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves that, in case you hadn't heard, saw the Washington Wizards lose Bradley Beal to another leg injury, the Wiz Kids get the pleasure of playing a second game in as many nights. The Pistons are a solid team with some serious chemistry issues, so even if Beal cannot play, the Wizards have a good opportunity to get back on track tonight.
Where and when? Game time is 7 p.m. at the Verizon Center.
Are they good? I don't think anyone really knows for sure yet. Detroit's record is a middling 14-17, good for sixth in the Eastern Conference, and they're 14th in the NBA in offensive rating and 20th in defensive rating. The thing is, they're still attempting to incorporate a lottery pick in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and two high usage players, Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith as well as increasing the role of second year phenom Andre Drummond. The Pistons are also playing huge, with Smith still adjusting to playing small forward for major chunks of the game. They have struggled to find lineups that provide their bigs with enough space to maximize their effectiveness around the basket. The pieces may never fit together, but if they ever do, Detroit has the talent to be the third best team in the East.
Who's out? The Wizards are going to be without Al Harrington, Glen Rice, Jr., and (likely) Beal. Kevin Seraphin sat out of last night's game with soreness in his knee and is questionable for tonight. Detroit recently sent Peyton Siva and Tony Mitchell to the D-League and may be without Rodney Stuckey after the combo guard missed last night's game.
What are they good at? The Pistons are incredible on the offensive glass, leading the NBA in offensive rebounding rate, averaging 14.5 per game. Smith and Monroe are both good here, but Drummond is the real difference maker. He's averaging 5.3 offensive rebounds in 32.7 minutes per game this year. For the sake of comparison, Nene, Trevor Booker and Marcin Gortat combined are averaging only 5.8. Drummond's size, strength and athleticism really help him here - he can simply do things that no one else in the NBA is physically capable of.
What are they bad at? Despite the mobility of Drummond and Smith, the Pistons are hopeless when it comes to guarding the pick and roll, ranking 27th and 28th in the NBA in defending pick and roll ball handlers and roll men per MySynergySports. As Mike covered on the main site, Drummond still struggles with the fundamentals of team defense. On top of this, all of the new players and youngsters are still not communicating adequately on defense or playing well as a team. Monroe's lack of mobility hurts, as does Jennings' size and Smith playing out of position.
How's Kentavious Caldwell-Pope doing? Not great. He's struggled for a lottery pick, especially on offense, but has looked like he could be a solid three and d type down the road. He's playing well on defense and at least looks like an athletic guy who can shoot and those guys usually figure it out.
What are the Wizards going to do without Bradley Beal? Probably struggle to score a bit in the halfcourt and make up the difference on defense. Beal's injury is unfortunate and hurts the team's depth quite a bit. That said, he hasn't been that much more effective than Martell Webster or Trevor Ariza, the two players who will likely take most of his minutes, this year and the defense could benefit from a little bit more length on the perimeter. (No word on Beal's status yet).
Who's going to win? Despite Beal's absence, I think the Wizards will pull this one out tonight. They're playing at home and shouldn't struggle to create shots in the half court if they run a lot of pick and rolls with Wall and Gortat. Nene should be the key to the game for the Wizards - Gortat has looked overmatched against Drummond, but Nene's ability to push him away from the basket could be a difference-maker.
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