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Wizards vs. Pistons preview: Washington looks to change things up as they head to Detroit

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Detroit Pistons v Washington Wizards Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Game Info

When: Friday, January 19 at 8 p.m. ET.
Where: Little Caesar’s Arena in Detroit, Michigan
TV: ESPN and NBC Sports Washington
Win probability: Washington has a 38 percent chance of winning, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Injury Report

Wizards: Sheldon Mac (Out, Achilles)

Pistons: Avery Bradley (Questionable, Groin), Stanley Johnson (Questionable, Hip), Luke Kennard (Questionable, Thumb), Reggie Jackson (Out, Ankle), Jon Leuer (Out, Ankle)

What to Watch for

What will the Wizards do differently after Wednesday’s loss?

Scott Brooks threw down the gauntlet after Wednesday’s embarrassing loss to the Hornets, saying this after the game:

“We’re just going to have to find guys who are going to compete. It’s not about nothing else. It’s not about shots. It’s not about how many minutes. It’s not about how many shots you get. It’s about competing. We all get paid to compete regardless. Things aren’t going your way offensively. It’s not about that. It’s about competing, and we didn’t do that tonight.”

It’s hard to see Brooks bringing new players into the rotation, considering his alternatives (Jason Smith, Tim Frazier, and Chris McCullough) are clear downgrades. However, he could certainly tinker with the starting lineup and how minutes are doled out.

You’d have to assume John Wall and Bradley Beal won’t be the ones getting benched here. Benching Otto Porter also seems counterproductive, but it doesn’t seem like Brooks’ comments about trying to get Porter to be more aggressive after Monday’s game resonated. He only took six shots against Charlotte, and only two of them came after the first quarter. So perhaps Brooks could bring him off the bench for the next few games just to force him into a situation where he has to be more aggressive with the reserves, but that seems like a sub-optimal solution to the problem.

If someone gets benched, it’s more likely going to be Markieff Morris and/or Marcin Gortat, who have both struggled lately, especially in Wednesday’s loss. Morris was 1-for-5 from the field against Charlotte and finished with more fouls (4) than points (2). Meanwhile, Gortat was 0-for-3 from the field, 0-for-2 from the line, and only snagged eight rebounds while his counterpart Dwight Howard finished with 18 points and 15 rebounds.

There are a few different ways the Wizards could try to switch things up in that situation, whether it’s by going small with Oubre and Porter, or subbing in Mike Scott and/or Ian Mahinmi to switch things up a bit.

Here’s a look at how Wall and Beal have performed with various combinations throughout the season, as well as how many minutes they’ve played together so you can get a better feel for which lineups have proven themselves and which need more time:

Just going off production, the Oubre-Porter-Gortat combo seems like the best bet, but it’s fair to question whether or not that would hold up if Porter has to deal with the wear and tear of guarding bigger players more often. If Brooks is hesitant to go that direction, starting Scott instead of Morris might be a more sustainable solution that gives the lineup a jolt.

Also, while I wouldn’t hand Ian Mahinmi the starting spot, his production with Oubre and Porter is encouraging. There are some shot creation issues with that lineup, but there’s a lot of defensive versatility to make up for it as long as Mahinmi can stay out of foul trouble.

Regardless of what move Brooks makes, it’s going to be interesting to see how he tries to diagnose this team’s issues. Washington has lost four of their last six with their only two wins coming by narrow margins at home against the lowly Nets and Magic.

A random moment in Wizards - Pistons history: Bradley Beal shuts down The Palace

The Wizards are hoping their first game at the Pistons’ new arena goes as well as their last game at the old one. Bradley Beal scored 33 points to guide the Wizards to a close win over Detroit in the final game ever played at The Palace in Auburn Hills. He capped off his big night with an and-one dunk in the final minute to seal the victory.