By: Jacob Raim
The Wizards start a home and home set with the Pistons tonight when they travel to Detroit for the first time this season (7:30 pm | TV: CSN | Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM). The Pistons won last season's series 2-1.
On Wednesday the Wizards went to Orlando to take on the Magic and came away with a hard fought 90-83 loss. The offense was firing on all cylinders in the first half as a new starting five propelled them to 50 first half points. The third quarter though saw the offense lose rhythm as they were held to 13 points and could not recover. Nene had a season high 20 points in the game and Crawford had 19.
They now head to Detroit to take on a Pistons team that has seen its fair share of struggles lately as well, losing their last six. In their most recent action on Wednesday night they went north of the border to play Toronto and lost 97-91. Greg Monroe had a career high 35 points in the loss.
Speaking of Greg Monroe, he is the engine that makes this team go averaging a team high 15.7 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. When he is on the floor the offense will run through him almost every single possession. Brandon Knight is coming off his worst game of the season in Toronto where he shot just 1/10 from the field for a season low 2 points but he will be the other go to option on offense. Knight has seen improvements across the board during his sophomore season and is notably shooting 43.2% from three point range.
For the Wizards, Bradley Beal will be questionable to play and if he is not able to go it will mean that Crawford will once again get as many minutes as he can handle after playing 41 on Wednesday. The big challenges will be for the Wizards bigs to contain Greg Monroe and for guys like Martell Webster, Cartier Martin and Kevin Seraphin to help Nene and Crawford with the scoring load.
Greg Monroe is coming off arguably the best game of his career scoring a career high 35 points on 14/22 shooting and adding 10 rebounds. Defenses have really keyed on Monroe during his third season but his numbers have not slipped and if anything the Pistons are going to him even more this year. Monroe really finishes around the rim and also makes his foul shots. He is a great passer out of the blocks, averaging over three assists per game and when he gets doubled he is one of the best at kicking out to the open man on the perimeter. He is also a very effective rebounder who controls the paint well.
While containing Monroe will no doubt have to be a group effort from the Wizards D, the primarily responsible for handling him will fall to Okafor. While there is no doubt Monroe is a great player, he does have some deficiencies on the defensive end that can be attacked by Okafor. Monroe does not block shots and also is not overly physical and Okafor can take the game to him when the Wizards are on offense. Okafor needs to be aggressive on both ends and protect the basket. Monroe gets turned away at the rim at a high percentage for a big man and if Okafor can swat or alter some of Monroe's shots early, Okafor could take him out of his rhythm.
The key to beating the Pistons is containing Monroe and winning this one could come down to Okafor and the rest of the Wizards bigs controlling one of the most complete centers in the NBA. If Okafor can limit his impact while the Pistons are on offense and Okafor, Nene and Seraphin can attack him effectively on the other end it should give the Wizards a good chance to win.
In the below clip, Emeka Okafor scores against Glen Davis on a reverse layup.
In this clip, Shaun Livingston finds Okafor for a dunk against Atlanta.