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Pistons vs. Wizards preview: Can Washington's frontcourt step up to the challenge?

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The Wizards frontcourt has not looked very good in the early going. Can they bounce back from their awful showing in Toronto and hold their own against the Pistons?

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

After a three day lay-off, the Wizards are back at it tonight against the Pistons. Here's everything you need to know.

When and where? 7 p.m. at the Verizon Center.

Who's out? For Detroit, they'll be without their two primary floor spacers in Jodie Meeks (back) and Cartier Martin (right foot), as well as forward Luigi Datome (hamstring).

Bradley Beal (wrist) and Martell Webster (back) will be inactive for Washington.

Are they good? Detroit's defense has been trending in the right direction as of late, but any improvements made on that end has been rendered useless by an offense that isn't even close to league-average. It took all but three games for Stan Van Gundy to go back to the Josh Smith-Greg Monroe-Andre Drummond frontcourt, and since then, the last few weeks has looked like one giant experiment. Van Gundy is still parsing through different lineup combinations, and it hasn't helped that he's flip-flopped so much between his two point guards.

So really, not much has changed. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope still refuses to attack the basket, their guards struggle to even throw a decent entry pass into the paint and they don't run enough pick and rolls because the lane is constantly packed with defenders. Andre Drummond is costing himself valuable playing time by constantly being out of position defending pick and rolls, which leads to fouls. And, of course, there's Josh Smith launching jumpers with reckless abandon.

They did manage to keep Greg Monroe via the qualifying offer though, and he's been by far their best player. He absolutely took it to Chicago's front line on Monday, and is still one of the better rebounding 4's in the league. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Caron Butler, who is shooting lights out and has emerged as a key cog off their bench.

Keys to the game: This will come down to Washington's starting frontcourt. They got pushed around in Toronto and were unable to get anything going in the pick and roll. Detroit's big men aren't nearly as imposing, but they're long and able to cover a lot of ground. As a starting unit, they're gobbling up a ridiculous 59-percent of available rebounds, per NBA.com.

The matchup at the three will be interesting. Smith is great when he's locked in, but he's often a spacey defender, which the Bulls noticed. Jimmy Butler was 4-7 from three on Monday, and I'm not sure any of his attempts were even mildly contested. This is how Paul Pierce can break out of his slump. He's a much better shooter than Butler and he's more apt to attack a closeout and getting to the free throw line.

Who wins? I'm going with the Pistons and I hope I'm wrong. The season opener last year still sticks out to me for whatever reason, even if the Wizards managed to split the season series. Monroe is one of those "Wizards killers" that always seems to give Nene fits, and if Drummond can stay out of foul trouble, he's one of those big men that can shut off the paint and force John Wall into those awkward-looking floaters in the lane.

If the Wizards can't break out of their three-point shooting slump - they're 5-30 in their last two games - they're in trouble.