By: Jacob Raim
The Wizards take on the Pistons in the second leg of a home and home set on Saturday night at the Verizon Center (7:00 pm | TV: CSN | Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM). The Pistons took the first game Friday night in Detroit, 100-68.
The Wizards were very undermanned for the Friday night matchup as Bradley Beal and Nene were on the injury report, which already included John Wall, A.J. Price, Trevor Ariza, and Trevor Booker. Beal missed the second game of his career with a sore lower back after he took a hard spill in Tuesday night's game vs. Atlanta and Nene was under the weather along with his foot still limiting him. The Wizards cut the Pistons lead to four late in the first quarter but after that it was all Pistons as they led by 19 at the half and never looked back.
If the Wizards want to get a win Saturday night the script will have to change as the Pistons overwhelmed them Saturday night. The Wizards will absolutely have to be more effective on the offensive end as the team only shot 32.9% and had their lowest scoring night of the season. The team will also have to be more effective on the glass as the Pistons outrebounded them 58-46.
No one Piston did all of the damage Friday night as it was a balanced scoring effort. All 14 active Pistons scored and 5 of them scored in double figures. Andre Drummond had one of the better nights of his young career as he scored 11 points, had 14 rebounds and 5 blocks over just 21 minutes. The Wizards cannot let Drummond have that much of an effect, especially on the boards. Greg Monroe had 15 points on 5/12 shooting and 9 boards which is a fine job keeping him in check considering what he is capable of, as evidenced by his 35 point, 10 rebound outburst in Toronto on Wednesday.
The Wizards are obviously in a difficult situation with their depleted lineup but that means that guys need to step up. Jordan Crawford is clearly the go to scorer right now but there have to be players who step up into secondary scorer roles. Crawford had 20 points in the game on Friday night but nobody else had more than 10. Webster, Martin, Seraphin or Okafor particularly need to take up some of the scoring slack left by Nene and Beal (if they can't go again) for the Wizards to be effective on the offensive end.
While Crawford may technically be starting at the SG and Knight at the PG, the two high scoring guards were on each other all night in the two team's opening contest. The Wizards and Pistons each put their bigger guard, Livingston for the Wizards and Singler for the Pistons, on each other and let Crawford and Knight duel. Plus, Crawford spent a good portion of the game playing the point.
Crawford has been on fire lately as the Wizards go to scoring option and that cannot change for the Wizards to get a win tonight in DC. With the Wizards missing some other scoring options, Crawford has basically had the green light to shoot as much as he wants and it has actually improved his efficiency along with his scoring average. During the three games in the last four nights, Crawford has averaged 22 points and shot 44% while shooting over 20 times a game, well over his season numbers of 15.3 points per games and 39.9% shooting. Crawford has also become more of a distributor as he's been playing more minutes at the point and is dishing the ball at the highest rate of his career, averaging over 9 assists per game this week. Crawford has had the ball in his hands a lot and has been effective with it.
The Pistons had a very balanced scoring attack on Friday night and Knight scored 15 points on 4/11 shooting. Knight has seen an uptick in almost all of his numbers his sophomore year but he's been cold lately, shooting 36% or lower in his last four games including an ugly 1/10 performance against Toronto on Wednesday night. The biggest improvement in Knight's game this year has been his three point shooting as he is in the top 25 in the league in 3 point FG% after shooting only 38% last year. Crawford will have to get out on the perimeter to make sure Knight doesn't get deep open looks and Knight will certainly have to do the same on Crawford. If Crawford can frustrate the 21 year old Knight into another tough shooting game and also continue his play of late on the offensive end, it will give the Wizards a good chance to bounce back tonight.
In the below clip, Crawford fakes and goes by Knight for the easy bucket.
In this clip, Crawford talks about his 27 point, 11 rebound, 11 assist triple double from Tuesday night against Atlanta.