Washington (13-14) at Detroit (14-18)
December 30, 2013 at 7:30 PM
The Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, MI
TV: CSN Washington
Radio: 106.7FM The Fan
Projected starting lineups:
C- Marcin Gortat
PF- Trevor Booker
SF- Trevor Ariza
SG- Bradley Beal
PG- John Wall
C- Andre Drummond
PF- Greg Monroe
SF- Josh Smith
SG- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
PG- Brandon Jennings
Trevor Ariza v. Josh Smith
Josh Smith has been in a critical slump over the past few games and it’s played a key factor in Detroit not winning them. While Smith has remained his usual trigger happy self around the perimeter – to not much avail – he’s been struggling at the rim as well, and that ultimately led to his benching in the second half against the Wizards on Saturday night. The Pistons have lost four of their last five games and in those losses, Smith has combined for just 20-for-60 from the field including a barf-worthy 3-for-21 on shots 15 feet or more away from the basket.
Meanwhile, Trevor Ariza has defended solidly thus far this season and is coming off a staunch performance against Smith and the Pistons with a beefy stat line of 15 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals. In contrast to the Pistons’ recent slump, the Wizards have won four of their last five games and Ariza has been a prime factor with his sharp shooting from downtown, missing just nine of his last 23 attempts.
With Ariza and the Wizards on a surge and Josh Smith continuing to sink the Pistons with trigger happy long 2’s, look for the Wizards to gain an advantage on the boards and in transition. Ariza has consistently been an offensive threat this year, and good production from him has proven to steer the Wizards in the right direction.
The Pistons front court. With any matchup against the Pistons, success down low can and mostly likely will be game changing. This was evidenced on Saturday night after the Wizards held Detroit’s “big 3” interior guys to a combined 22 points on 21 shots with just two free throw attempts. Josh Smith was benched by halftime and by the 4th quarter, the Wizards were up by 24 and Monroe and Drummond had hung up their sneaks. The Pistons are looking for Drummond and Monroe to open up their midrange game a bit, but in the last game, twasn’t working very well. With a crowded front court, Smith is forced into his demoralizing (yet personally cherished) role of jump shooting. With Drummond and Monroe unable to consistently convert from more than 10 feet out, it removes the opportunity for Smith to penetrate inside. The Wizards played their cards right defensively the last time around they faced this front court, so here’s hoping the same success carries over in Motown tonight.
Perimeter defense As noted above, the Wizards interior defense was able to disrupt the Pistons from gaining an advantage down low, but what I noted in the game recap after Saturday night was their ability to stop the Pistons outside the paint as well. The Pistons’ guards combined for just 30% shooting and, well, we can always just keep letting Josh Smith shoot. Marcin Gortat was critical of the Wizards’ defense around the lane after the Wolves loss and against Detroit, the adjustments were clearly made. The Pistons’ guards missed a ton of jump shots and didn’t find much more success trying to penetrate the lane either.
What happened last time they played?
The DVR box is still hot from the game replay from Saturday night. The Wizards blew out the Pistons, of course, with a 106-82 win behind 20 and 11 from John Wall. Bradley Beal, who suffered a leg injury late in the Wolves game the night prior, still suited up for the Wizards and scored 15 points. The Wizards led by as many as 28 in the game thanks to a strong 3rd quarter surge in which Trevor Ariza scored 10 points of his 15 points.
For the Wizards, Glen Rice, Jr. and Al Harrington remain out. Kevin Seraphin is listed as questionable. Rodney Stuckey is also listed as questionable for the Pistons.
The Wizards face another shot at achieving a .500 record tonight in Detroit against a Pistons team that Bradley Beal thinks won’t be too happy about their blowout loss two nights ago: “They probably didn’t like that we beat them by 20-plus, so they’re definitely going to be coming harder in the next game,” Beal told WaPo’s Michael Lee. He’s probably right. We’ve seen Detroit much more fierce than we did in the last game so I’m not totally expecting another dominant defensive performance by the Wizards. In fact, I’m not totally sure what to expect at all. Just 24 hours removed from being blown out in Minnesota, the Wizards turned around and destroyed the Pistons as if nothing ever happened. Was the Minnesota game a fluke loss due to holiday hangovers? Who knows. What I do know is that the Wizards have won four of their last five, with three of those on the road. They’re on the road tonight again and as the season wears on, this team is seemingly creepin’ on ah come up. At least I hope. At least that’s what Bone Thugs -n- Harmony say. I’ll let them close us out. Go Wizards.