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Reserve play fueled the Wizards’ victory over Pistons. The starting backcourt play will come soon enough.

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Here’s more from the Wizards’ 115-99 win over the Pistons from last night. And also, I have a more optimistic note about the “meh” performance of the starting backcourt as well.

Detroit Pistons v Washington Wizards
Moritz Wager continues his strong play off the bench this season.
Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

The Washington Wizards are back in the win column after a 115-99 win over the Detroit Pistons on Monday. So let’s look one more time at the box score and see what happened in the game.

Stat of the Game: 53-31

That stat describes the Wizards’ reserves’ scoring vs. the Pistons. We’re seeing many of the usual suspects like Troy Brown and Moritz Wagner put up big numbers despite not being called in the starting lineup.

In fact, the plus/minus rating for the starters were significantly better than the starters, most of whom had negative ratings while on the floor. Of course, I won’t say that the Wizards are better off by starting Ish Smith and Troy Brown over Isaiah Thomas and Bradley Beal. It’s just that Smith, Brown and the reserve units were just that much better last night.

Andre Drummond wasn’t stopped, but Washington forced him into a bad game

Drummond may have grabbed 24 rebounds, but he committed 5 personal fouls, committed 4 turnovers and scored 15 points on 6-of-20 shooting. Washington did a very good job not letting him into a rhythm as a scorer, even if he otherwise still put up big numbers. After all, 24 rebounds are 24 rebounds!

Turnovers gave more opportunities, but the Wizards didn’t convert enough of them.

The Wizards forced the Pistons into 19 turnovers, not including 2 team ones. they scored 17 points off of those turnovers. Though Washington committed just 11 turnovers, Detroit scored 12 points off them. This is something Washington needs to improve on as the season goes on since the margin of victory could have been even larger in this one.

It will take time to see a Beal and Thomas backcourt flourish. It will be huge if it does.

Isaiah Thomas has been playing very well off the bench so far this season, so I wasn’t surprised that he would be the starting point guard alongside Bradley Beal sooner rather than later.

Thomas didn’t have a good game, where he shot just 3-of-9 from the field for 9 points, though he dished 6 assists. Beal led Washington’s scorers with 22 points, but also committed 5 turnovers. It’s safe to say that the two haven’t found the right balance with one another because they are used to being the primary offensive options on the court.

This is sort of similar to the situation that Washington Mystics forwards Elena Delle Donne and Emma Meesseman had, but they both play power forward. But hear me out on this one.

Both players were used to playing significant minutes as the primary option on the floor, but struggled to do much together for much the 2019 WNBA season or even in 2017, primarily because Meesseman had to play for the Belgian national team midseason.

From hindsight, they were able to get it together. While Delle Donne was the regular season MVP, Meesseman turned out to be their primary option in the playoffs and won the Finals MVP after the Mystics won it all. It sounds easy, but I didn’t think that the two would ever “get it” until they made the Finals because of Meesseman’s constant international commitments.

The Wizards won’t have international tournaments and qualifiers interfering with their schedule, even with Team USA now required to participate in AmeriCup and qualifiers. But I’m more optimistic about Thomas and Beal finding a rhythm with one another this NBA season than I was with Delle Donne and Meesseman last summer because they have a longer regular season. If Beal and Thomas can figure things out early, then the Wizards could even make a run for a postseason spot!

Beal and Thomas are seasoned veterans on a team most people think will stink this season. They both have also played on teams with playoff success quite recently. They are not past their prime. So who’s to say that they couldn’t surprise the rest of the NBA this season?