You were not dreaming, Kelly Olynyk really did hit a buzzer beating baseline fadeaway to sink the Charlotte Hornets and end the Pistons 15 (!) game losing streak against them. The Pistons are hot right now having beat the Celtics before the all star break, beating the Cavaliers after the break, and then playing the Celtics tough after that game.
Before this recent hot stretch for the Pistons, the Pistons lost to the Wizards to cap off an 8 game losing streak that started at the beginning of February. The Pistons are a different team since that losing streak and they will look to prove that as they take on Washington Wizards again in DC.
Where: Capital One Arena in Washington, DC
When: Tuesday, March 1 at 7:00 pm
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons (+3.5)
The Washington Wizards were the feel good story of the early NBA season after their hot start. The return they received from the Lakers in the Russell Westbrook trade made them look like clear winners as the trio of Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Montrezl Harrell all played very well during the Wizards’ hot start.
Since then, the Wizards have started to flounder and have pivoted directions a bit. Bradley Beal is out for the season after having surgery on his wrist. Montrezl Harrell was traded to the Charlotte Hornets. Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans were traded to the Dallas Mavericks.
All of these moves had already happened the last time these two teams faced before the all star break, but the Pistons lost that game.
The Pistons team we have seen since that last matchup is a completely new team. Everybody is healthy, they have beaten 3 teams that are in playoff contention. They look like the scrappy underdogs we saw last season led by their young players with solid contributions from veterans mixed in.
However, the Wizards have Kyle Kuzma, a notorious Pistons killer dating back to his days with the Lakers. Kuzma had 23 points in the last matchup between these two teams and hit a dagger three in OT in a win back in December en route to 26 points.
The Pistons and Wizards are in a pretty similar state right now. The Wizards are doing better in the standings due to their hot start, but they only won 4 games in February and 5 games in January. The Pistons have the same amount of wins in 2022.
Hopefully a backcourt matchup against Raul Neto and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope can keep Cade Cunningham out of foul trouble as neither player is a huge threat to attack the basket. Cade Cunningham has been great the last few games, but foul trouble has lessened his impact on the game.
A player who has had a lot of impact on the last few games for the Pistons even if it is a bit understated in the box score, is Isaiah Stewart. He is really starting to get more comfortable in the starting lineup and setting solid screens and playing very good defense. The Pistons aren’t using him as much as a pick-and-roll threat since that isn’t his strength, but using his big body to create space and lanes to the basket.
Cade Cunningham’s shot has been a bit off the last few games, but he has had a lot easier drives to the basket. Young teams take time to develop and figure out how to play together, and that is starting to happen game-by-game for the Pistons.
The Wizards still probably have more talent if everybody plays, but without Beal this is a very winnable game for the Pistons.
Wizards: (27-33): Raul Neto, Cory Kispert, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Daniel Gafford
Pistons (15-46): Cory Joseph, Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Isaiah Stewart
Should the Pistons keep bringing Killian Hayes off the bench the rest of the season, or put him back in the starting lineup over the final stretch of the season?