DC Council Opening Statements: Wizards at Pistons, Game 24
Here to provide the DC Council Opening Statements for Washington’s 24th game of the season against the Pistons in Detroit are TAI’s Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) and guest Dan Feldman (@danfeld11), who is all over the interwebs but contributes here today as a writer for the ESPN TrueHoop blog Piston Powered (@PistonPowered).
Wizards Starters (3-20):
Shaun Livingston, Jordan Crawford, Martell Webster, Earl Barron, Emeka Okafor
(Will Earl Barron start two games in a row? Stay tuned, Wizards fans…)
NOTE: Bradley Beal is a game-time decision, and Nene is out with a cold/flu (that Jan Vesely likely gave him). News via @cmillscsm.
Pistons Starters (7-21):
Brandon Knight, Tayshaun Prince, Kyle Singler, Jason Maxiell, Greg Monroe
Q #1: What have you done for me lately?
(What’s the status of the Pistons over the past week?)
@danfeld11: The Pistons have lost six straight. Really, though, every player in the rotation that whole time has had ups and downs. Sadly, it’s an improvement that nobody is dependably bad. It hasn’t resulted in a win lately, but the Pistons, individually at least, are showing some signs of progress. Greg Monroe had 35 points and 10 rebounds in a loss to the Raptors on Wednesday, which hopefully puts him on the right track. He has been turning the ball over and missing shots more this season, and Pistons fans had expected more. Maybe not 35-10 every night, but he could definitely hit those marks more often in the season’s second two-thirds.
Q #2: Who threw out my alarm clock?
(Which player(s) are we sleeping on?)
@danfeld11: Andre Drummond. He’s tied for the team in win shares (with Greg Monroe) despite ranking just seventh in minutes. I don’t blame outsiders for sleeping on Drummond, because Lawrence Frank is sleeping on him, too. Drummond might not be in the right position every time. He might not have the right technique every time. But because he’s so athletic—and because he has a good feel for the game—he gets the job done. He deserves more minutes, and pity on the team the Pistons are playing when that happens.
Q #3: What game-within-the-game counts most?
(What matchup between two players or between each team in a particular statistical category is most important.)
@danfeld11: Jordan Crawford vs. Brandon Knight. Neither has mastered playing point guard, but both have looked very good at the position in spurts. Maybe that’s an indictment of Knight, who has been playing the position much longer. Or maybe it’s praise for Crawford, the Detroit native who has handled point-guard duty much better than I thought he would since being pressed into the position due to Washington’s injuries. If one has a positive spurt at the position and the other doesn’t, it will be very difficult for the other’s team to win.
Q #4: How it’s going down?
(TAI’s general key to the game.)
@Truth_About_It: Interestingly enough, the seven-win Pistons rank fifth in the NBA in fouls drawn on opponents per game (21.3)—after the Lakers, Timberwolves, Nuggets and Thunder, and just barely better than the Nets. Could spell trouble for a depleted Wizards squad, whether Bradley Beal and a sickly Jan Vesely are available or not. [NOTE: Beal is a game-time decision tonight.]
So how can the Wizards win? For one, Detroit’s defense is fairly worse than Washington’s (Detroit’s DefRtg is ranked 24th, Washington’s is ranked 13th, so the Wiz are 2.4 points better per 100 possession on defense). Also, the Pistons don’t turn opponents over much, as their Opponent Turnover Percentage ranks second-lowest in the league—the opposition only commits a turnover against the Pistons on 13.9% of possessions. Meanwhile, the league-leading Clippers turn opponents over on 18.5% of their possessions. Finally, even though the speed of Washington is greatly diluted without John Wall, they still play faster than Detroit.
Hustle on D, take care of the ball, get out and run, hit a couple 3s—it seems like a rather simple formula for the Wiz Kids. Yea, riiiiight.
The Wizards are 6.5-point dogs. The over/under is 185 points (via USA Today).
@danfeld11: Pistons 97, Wizards 87. I’ve seen enough teams get big eyes when they realize they can use the Pistons to end a losing streak. It’s time to return the favor.
@Truth_About_It: On the road, despite a day’s rest after a poor showing in Orlando, I don’t expect Washington to have the legs tonight. Which, considering Nene’s minutes limit, might also put the Wizards behind the 8-ball when Detroit comes to the District for a return match-up on Saturday night. [NOTE: Nene is out tonight, so the Wizards are further behind the 8-ball now.]
Then again, Jordan Crawford is from Detroit… that means something, right? Of course, the two games Crawford played in Detroit last year netted him a total of 4-for-25 from the field and 1-for-8 on 3-pointers. If he (and Nene) weren’t the only real shot-creators that Washington has, I’d say that Crawford was due. Otherwise, this will be a 89-81 Detroit affair.
[stats source: NBA.com/stats]