By: Jeremy Hyman
The Wizards will be going for their fourth win in a row as they return home to host the Pistons tonight at Verizon Center (7:00 pm | TV: CSN+ | Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM). Detroit leads the season series 3-0 and the Wizards will look to avoid a season sweep with a win tonight.
As Randy Wittman and Bradley Beal mentioned after Tuesday's practice, the Pistons seem to have the Wizards number this season. Neither could point their finger to exactly why, but they both acknowledged that the team was aware of the history between these two teams this season. The first two games in December came as part of a back-to-back, and the Wizards were playing undermanned and never really had a chance in either. The last time out, the Wizards held the lead after each quarter until it really mattered in the fourth when the Pistons took command and rallied for the win. Letting that last one slip away in Detroit will be fresh on the mind of the Wizards tonight as they try and turn the tide and show the Pistons what they are truly made of.
In their last game, it was Jose Calderon's 24 points that really did the Wizards in along with some fine fourth quarter bench play from Will Bynum. These will be two backcourt mates who the Wizards will need to do a better job defending as they meet again tonight. Greg Monroe is the focal point of the Pistons attack and last time out vs. the Wizards he recorded 16 points and 18 boards. Both teams are good rebounding teams and the winner of the boards could well be the winner of the game. If the Wizards can keep Monroe off the glass, it will go a long way to help getting them a win tonight.
Rookie Andre Drummond will miss the contest for the Pistons. He averaged almost a double-double in January, shooting 63% and added over two blocks per game. His absence changes the Pistons game plan on both offensive and defense. He's been a reliable low post option for them, teaming with Monroe to give defenses fits in the blocks with two potentially dominant big men. It's on defense where the miss his presence more though as he has grown into a serious deterrent to teams going inside on the Pistons. This is due to his physical play in the post and his ability to consistently alter shots. Neither Monroe nor Villanueva are shot blockers, which Drummond makes up for when healthy.
The Wizards and Pistons are going in different directions of late. The Wizards have won three in a row and seven of nine, while the Pistons have just one win in their last five contests. The Wizards are coming off an impressive three game winning streak, beating both the Nuggets and Rockets at home over the weekend and then getting a road win against a hot Toronto team on Monday.
One of the reasons for the Wizards recent success has been the stellar play of rookie Bradley Beal. He is averaging 20.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists over his last six games and has emerged as the Wizards go-to scorer on offense. His confidence continues to grow with each game and there should be no slowing him down tonight as he continues to shoot the ball well from the perimeter.
The Wizards are now relatively healthy and playing their best basketball of the season. If they can get a win tonight, it will be their second four-game winning streak of the month.
The action kicks off at 7:00pm from Verizon Center.
Bradley Beal has been getting plenty of praise of late and why shouldn't he? He's averaging over 20 points a game over the Wizards last six contests and in Monday night's game he tied Steve Blake for the most three-pointers ever made by a Wizards rookie with 75. He was held to just 10 points when the two teams met in Detroit two weeks ago, which was the lowest point total in this six game stretch. Look for Beal to continue his hot shooting tonight and be one of the Wizards leading scorers once again.
While Brandon Knight is day-to-day, Rodney Stuckey is the expected starter tonight and he can be an explosive scorer as well. Stuckey seemed like he was on a path to be a real star with some impressive numbers as a young player, but he has never really taken that next step towards stardom. He averaged a career-high 16.6 points per game in 2009-10, but now is more of a sixth man and is good for 11.5 off the bench. He is a solid combo guard that will need to be accounted for on each offensive trip tonight.
In this clip, John Wall leads Beal for the dunk.
In the clip below, Beal finishes at the rim with an impressive up-and-under layup.