Preview: Wizards look to bounce back Thursday night in Detroit
The Wizards are in Detroit on Thursday night, taking on the Pistons at 7:00 P.M. at Little Caesars Arena. It will be the teams’ second meeting in the last week as Washington topped Detroit 106-92 on Saturday night in D.C.
Raul Neto (left rib contusion) makes his return to the lineup after missing one game while Bradley Beal (right hip contusion) will miss his third straight outing.
Little Caesars Arena | 7:00 P.M. | NBCSW+ | 1500 AM
Wizards: G – Russell Westbrook, G – Jerome Robinson, F – Deni Avdija, F – Rui Hachimura, C – Alex Len
Pistons: G – Saben Lee, G – Wayne Ellington, F – Jerami Grant, F – Saddiq Bey, C – Mason Plumlee
Wizards: Bradley Beal (right hip contusion – out), Davis Bertans (right calf strain – out), Thomas Bryant (left ACL injury – out), Daniel Gafford (right ankle sprain – out), Raul Neto (left rib contusion – available) Ish Smith (right quadriceps strain – out)
Pistons: Hamidou Diallo (right groin injury management – out), Sekou Doumbouya (migraine – probable), Wayne Ellington (right calf strain – questionable), Killian Hayes (right hip strain – out), Rodney McGruder (right elbow sprain – out), Jahlil Okafor (left knee surgery – out), Dennis Smith Jr. (right lumbar spine soreness – questionable)
Wizards battling another wave of injuries
While just five days have passed, a lot has changed for the Wizards since their matchup with the Pistons last weekend. That 14-point win featured a strong debut from Daniel Gafford, who was acquired just 48 hours earlier in a three-way trade with the Bulls and Celtics. Gafford totaled 13 points, five rebounds and three blocks in 14 minutes off the bench, but suffered a right ankle sprain in the Wizards’ following game against the Pacers. Washington announced on Tuesday night that Gafford will be re-evaluated in approximately 10 days. Also on the injury front, the Wizards have been without Bradley Beal (right hip contusion) for the last two games – and will be again on Thursday night – after a hard fall in the second half of the game against Detroit and were without Raul Neto on Tuesday against Charlotte as he continued to nurse a lingering rib injury. In relief, Chandler Hutchison made his Wizards debut on Monday night against Indiana. Acquired from Chicago in the same deal that brought in Gafford, Hutchison scored 18 points in his first game and totaled seven points, five rebounds and a pair of assists in his second. Hutchison will likely continue to see a steady workload, especially with the team working through injury challenges.
Westbrook’s historic week
With the Wizards’ rotation in flux over the last few games, Russell Westbrook has put up some of his best statistical performances since joining the team this season. Highlighted by a 35-point, 14-rebound, 21-assist game against the Pacers on Monday night, Westbrook is averaging 25.3 points, 16.0 rebounds and 15.0 assists per game over his last three outings. According to Elias Sports Bureau, he’s just the second player in league history to average at least 25.0 points, 15.0 rebounds and 15.0 assists over three-game span, joining Wilt Chamberlain, who did so in 1968.
For Westbrook, Saturday’s game against Detroit was the first of three straight triple-doubles, the second of which broke Darrell Walker’s franchise record for career triple-doubles. Against Detroit, Westbrook finished with 19 points, 19 rebounds and 10 assists. The 19 rebounds were the most he’s recorded in a game this season. In the second half, he struggled from the field, scoring just four points on 2-12 (.166), but helped close the win with five rebounds and five assists in the fourth quarter.
Washington and Detroit look for more consistent performances
Just as they were in the teams’ meeting last weekend, the Pistons will be playing in the second game of a back-to-back, this time coming off a matchup with the Trail Blazers on Wednesday night. Last time around, Detroit showed some signs of fatigue out of the gate. They scored just 41 points in the first half and did not generate a single point in transition. The Pistons trailed by as many as 30 points before mounting a comeback in the third quarter. The Wizards held on to win, thanks to lockdown defense in the fourth quarter, but recognized postgame the need for more consistent performances from start to finish after nearly squandering the massive lead. On Thursday night, both teams will look to find that consistency that was missing last weekend.