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Pistons at Wizards Game Preview: Jump starting Paul

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Detroit at Washington

November 12, 2014 at 7:00PM
Verizon Center, Washington, DC
TV: CSNWashington
Radio: 99.1FM


Tale of the Tape

[ezcol_1third]WIZARDS[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third][/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]PISTONS[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]5-2[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]TEAM RECORD[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]2-5[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]97.6[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]PPG (own)[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]91.9[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]96.7[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]PPG (opp)[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]96.0[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Won 1[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]W/L STREAK[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Lost 1[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Won at Indiana 97-90[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]PREVIOUS GAME[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Lost vs. Utah 97-96[/ezcol_1third_end]


Projected Starting Lineups

[ezcol_1third]WIZARDS[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third][/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]PISTONS[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]John Wall[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]POINT GUARD[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Brandon Jennings[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Garrett Temple[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]SHOOTING GUARD[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Kentavious Caldwell-Pope[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Paul Pierce[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]SMALL FORWARD[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Josh Smith[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Nene[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]POWER FORWARD[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Greg Monroe[/ezcol_1third_end][ezcol_1third]Marcin Gortat[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third]CENTER[/ezcol_1third][ezcol_1third_end]Andre Drummonds[/ezcol_1third_end]


Last time they met was..

January 18, 2014. Pistons won 104-98 at the Verizon Center.

The Pistons topped a Wizards team that was struggling to crack .500, getting double figure efforts from all but one starter, including a 22 point effort Josh Smith. More remarkable, however, was the Pistons’ bench, which only went three deep, but added 41 total points, spurred by Rodney Stuckey’s 20.

For the Wizards, John Wall had an incredible game (34 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds), but Bradley Beal was uncharacteristically bad (7 points on 2-14 shooting). The credit here goes to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who put on a very good defensive performance, bothering Beal all night.

There was also a guy named Jan Vesely playing that night, who scored 7 points (all carefully guided through the net by Czech demigods).


Nene vs. Josh Smith

[ezcol_1half]Nene-acts-like-hes-been-there-before-even-though-its-been-a-pretty-long-while.-Getty-Images[/ezcol_1half][ezcol_1half_end]JSATL111913[/ezcol_1half_end]

Numbers 6:5 (English Standard Version)

“All the days of his vow separation, no razor shall touch his head. Until the time is completed for which he separates himself from the Lord, he shall be holy. He shall let the locks of hair of his head grow long.”

Josh Smith – one of my favorite malcontents – tossed out a firm stance on NBA players looking the part when they step onto the court: no dreadlocks. None. If you smell of oils, lock butter, or shampoo that can only be purchased in African bookstores, don’t even come out your warm-ups, man. You don’t have Josh’s respect.

Nene has strong locks that bounce like an antelope as he traverses the court. His hair snaps like a pack of angry snakes when he attacks the basket for a forceful dunk. How can Josh and his non-descript one-all-over compete with that? He can’t. We’re talking two different life forces.

As he’s done during his tenure in Detroit, Josh (and his spindly cut) will shoot the Pistons onto the barbershop floor with inefficiency.

Something Else to Watch: John Wall vs. Detroit’s point guards

John Wall’s defensive performances have been a mixed bag so far this season. He’s given up career nights to unheralded players (Norris Cole and Donald Sloan), held his own against established guys (Brandon Knight and Kyle Lowry), and locked down others (Shane Larkin).

Tonight, he gets Brandon Jennings, who’s been shooting surprisingly well for a player with a reputation as being a volume-driven streaky scorer. Wall has the speed to stay in front of Jennings, but will have to stop his perimeter scoring (44% from three) and threats in the open floor.


Who’s Out?

Wizards: Bradley Beal and Martell Webster are out.

Pistons: Jodie Meeks is out for an extended period; Luigi Datome and Cartier Martin are questionable for tonight.


Three areas of focus

  • Greg Monroe

This past summer, Greg Monroe became the restricted free agent everyone forgot about. He didn’t get moved via trade and didn’t garner any real interest with other teams. This was presumably because Detroit made it clear that they’d match any team’s offer sheet, but still a little odd for a talented power forward who has not even hit his prime.

Now, working with a qualifying offer, Monroe is putting teams on notice. He’s the Pistons’ leading scorer at 17.2 points per game, and he’s also pulling down 11.4 rebounds per game. While Monroe’s shot distribution doesn’t showcase his shooting ability (he shot over 50% from the 15 feet out on the corners last season), the potential is there.

Nene will have his hands full with Monroe with not only defending, but also keeping him off the offensive glass.

  • Where’s the Pistons Offense?

With the Pistons’ hire of Stan Van Gundy, it was clear what the team’s strength would be. Van Gundy has the credentials to create a stalwart, and the Pistons for years have assembled a roster of tall, long players capable of defensing inside and on the perimeter. Currently, the Pistons rank in the league’s top 10 in team defense.

But who’s scoring?

When Josh Smith is your second-leading scorer, but averaging only 35% shooting, that’s a problem. When Josh Smith doesn’t think he’s part of the problem. Well, that’s another problem.

As a whole, the Pistons don’t score exceptionally well. Their players who are billed to stretch the floor are either performing poorly (Kyle Singler) or not getting significant minutes (Jonas Jerebko). In their second unit, the scoring punch is being led by Caron Butler, who’s, you know – old.

I like the Wizards’ chances if they can limit the Pistons’ second-chance points and keep their speedy guards (especially DJ Augustin) from beating them off screens.

  • Jump Start Paul

So, Paul Pierce isn’t playing that well this season. He wasn’t brought in for scoring necessarily, but man something just hasn’t clicked yet. Paul is shooting only 33% from the floor, including 29% from 3-point range. He’s also missing a ton of shots from just under the basket with an average of only 38%. F.

The good is that Paul hasn’t lost too much of his footwork with age. He still does well in isolation scenarios, getting into the paint, getting fouled, and making free throws (87% on the season). While it’s difficult to look at Pierce’s shot chart and predict where the consistency will come from, I’d like to see him work out of some high screen sets until he finds his niche.

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