D.C. Council Opening Statements: Wizards at Pistons, Game 28
The last game of 2013 is upon us. A Wizards win gives them an even 14-14 record to end the year. From January to April, 2013—the tail end of the 2012-13 season—the Wizards went 24-29. So they’ll have to aim for a winning calendar year in 2014.
Prior to last Saturday, the last time Washington beat Detroit was on February 12, 2012. JaVale McGee dropped 22 and 11; Nick Young, starter, also added 22 points; and Jan Vesely and Rashard Lewis each chipped in 12 points off the bench. After that, seven straight Pistons wins, four coming in Detroit and three in Washington.
Highlighted in a four-game streak last season, partially due to then-rookie Andre Drummond, and driven home in the season opener for 2013-14, Detroit’s behemoth size and athleticism pose major problems for Washington. These two teams could very well provide an entertaining and hard-fought first round playoff matchup between two middling Eastern Conference teams as 4/5 seeds that will likely get overshadowed by playoff basketball otherwise.
Saturday’s surprise blowout probably went a long way in terms of the Wizards boosting their own confidence against a team like Detroit. A win tonight on the road to close out 2013, and to symbolically get to .500, could put Washington even further down a positive path.
Teams: Wizards at Pistons
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI
Radio: WFED-AM 1500
Spread: Pistons fav’d by 2.5 points
Wizards tickets … anyone?
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Q #1: So what’s the deal with Josh Smith getting benched for the entire second half on Saturday? I barely noticed.
@danfeld11: Unless Smith said something in the locker room—definitely possible—it seemed Cheeks was just looking to make an example of Smith. The day before, the Magic blew out the Pistons, and Detroit’s effort worsened against Washington. When you can’t bench everyone, why not just the team’s highest-paid player?
Q #2: Losing Smith, the high-priced but traditionally surly free agent acquisition, can’t bode well for Mo Cheeks. Wait, let’s back up … has Cheeks “lost” Smith? Is this a motivational tactic and will it actually work? And should Cheeks be on the coaching hot seat?
@danfeld11: I doubt Cheeks has lost Smith. Getting a fresh start with a new team, Smith seems intent on shedding his difficult-to-coach image. Smith might be annoyed, but I’d guess he does his best to get over it. And Cheeks coaches so his players like him. It doesn’t always work, but I bet he’ll try to get Smith back on his side.
Q #3: Detroit will still probably make the playoffs in the East, but is it generally the feeling that to improve, the Pistons should be thinking about what they could get in a trade of Monroe that might better mesh with Drummond, Smith and Jennings? (And how good is that ‘feeling’?)
@danfeld11: If the Pistons want to be better at this very moment, they should trade Monroe for a wing player with a good outside shot. Monroe for Bradley, perhaps? But Beal might be aiming too high. More likely, the Pistons would have to settle for a lesser player. Obviously, selling low would limit Detroit’s long-term potential. Monroe isn’t an ideal fit with this team, but he’ a very good player. If the Pistons are patient with him, there’s a solid chance they can either transform the team to make him fit better or trade him for fair value.
Q #4: John Wall and Bradley Beal talk about facing the Pistons again.
Are the Pistons the type of team to go home and win by 15-plus points? Because the Wizards totally seem like the type of team that goes up to Detroit and loses by that many … but they’ve surprised me sometimes this year.
@danfeld11: The Pistons are the type of team to let their opponent dictate the game, and the Wizards are definitely the type of team that goes to Detroit and gets blown out.