Game 1 – Washington Wizards at Detroit Pistons

  • Ralph Thompson Jr
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A season of high hopes tips off in Auburn Hills, Michigan on Wednesday night. The Pistons are in a similar place as the Wizards – promising young talent and playoff dreams. Each team should see this as a winnable game. When a team gets to the end of the year & and is a couple of games out of a playoff spot, and looks back over its’ schedule, this can be one of those “we should’ve won that game” events.

What do I expect to see in this opener? For one, both teams will have some opening night jitters. Some missed shots, errant passes and sloppy ball-handling will be plentiful in the first three or four minutes. After that, as rotations settle, both teams should look more polished.

Front Court – (Detroit) J.Smith/Monroe/Drummond/Jerebko/Villanueva/Singler
(Washington) Nene/Gortat/Seraphin/Harrington/Porter (injured)/Booker/Vesely

Detroit seems to have the advantage on paper, at least in youth and energy level. Josh Smith is a highly capable small forward, especially when he’s focused on team production. He’ll be a tough matchup for the Wizards to counter, with his shooting range out to the three-point line. Monroe is physical in the post, and Drummond is still learning to exert his vast potential as a shot-blocker and rebounder. Off their bench, the Pistons have a rebounder (Jerebko), a stretch-4 who likes to shoot jumpers (Villanueva) and a small forward who likes to move without the ball (Singler).

For this game, Nene and Gortat will have their hands full dealing with guys who are just as tall, but quicker. Washington’s post players will have to use their advantage in experience and defensive positioning to counter Detroit’s front-line quickness. Seraphin may struggle to keep up, but this may be a game where Harrington can help in high-leverage situations.

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Back Court/Wings – (Detroit) Billups/Jennings (injured)/Stuckey/Bynum/Caldwell-Pope/Siva
(Washington) Wall/Beal/Ariza/Webster/Temple/Maynor/Rice Jr./Booker

Washington seems to have the advantage here, especially with the starting combination of Wall and Beal. Detroit’s counterparts, Billups and Bynum, will probably struggle to hold Washington’s starters in check, especially in the transition game. Billups has the championship pedigree, but has lost quickness over the years. Bynum isn’t your everyday starter and wasn’t brought in to be one, however he is thrust into the role with Jennings being injured.

Off Detroit’s bench, Stuckey can play either guard spot, but he’s more of an off-guard. He’s a key scoring option with the second unit. Bynum is more of a classic backup point guard, a good ball distributor and a willing on-the-ball defender. For the Wizards, Ariza, Webster and Temple all are capable of getting 15-plus points on a given night. I’m interested to see how Maynor directs the second unit through its’ offensive sets. If he can get guys the ball in the right places for easy baskets, offensive production should be steady during the times Wall is out of the game. To me, consistent second-unit production is going to be crucial all year.

I think Washington can and should win this game. Washington’s back court has to exert its’ advantage in this matchup. Their run-outs should make up for Detroit’s front line winning the battles in the post.

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