Pistons vs. Wizards preview: Detroit looks to end two-game skid

Detroit Bad Boys

The Detroit Pistons have not won a game in Washington DC since January 2014. Yes, you read that correctly. Detroit have not won a game in more than eight years at Capital One Arena. The streak equates to 14 consecutive losses to the Wizards. Following a season where the Pistons were able to end immense losing streaks against the Milwaukee Bucks (12 loses) and Charlotte Hornets (15 loses), now would be the perfect time to end the franchise’s depressing streak against the Wiz.

Similar to last season, the Wizards find themselves starting the season strong. They opened with a pair of victories before a narrow loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in overtime. While Wiz GM Tommy Sheppard has assembled a roster that is more functional than sexy, the Wizard’s field a 10-man rotation capable of matching with the NBA’s best on any given (regular season) night.

For Detroit, tonight provides the opportunity to show growth from last season. After a pair of lackluster performances on the road in New York and Indiana, last season’s squad would more than likely roll over on the final game of a road trip, barely registering a punch. Far from a must-win, tonight’s matchup at least provides the young Detroit roster to show they have more fight than last season, and that it can improve from night to night.

Game Vitals

When: 7 p.m. ET
Where: Capital One Arena
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +5

Analysis

3 Things to Watch

Washington Wizards v Cleveland Cavaliers

Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

1. Detroit finishing in the paint

One week into the NBA season and Detroit is already the least efficient scoring team within 5 feet of the basket. Per NBA.com, the Piston are shooting a league-worst 50% at the rim.

These struggles were particularly evident against the Indiana Pacers in their last meeting, where the ground-bound Pistons were denied on 15 separate occasions by a Pacers big.

On the flip-side, Washington currently ranks first in the league for defensive field goal percentage within 6 feet of the cup, per NBA.com. The shot-swatting duo of Kristaps Porzingis and Daniel Gafford combine for an imposing presence in the painted area.

2. Can Cade build on a solid fourth quarter against Indiana?

While we are FAR from panic stations, it no stretch to say Cade Cunningham’s first three games as a sophomore have been a tad underwhelming, particularly as a scorer.

The biggest knock on Cunningham to date has been his inability to put the ball in the hoop at an efficient rate. Three games into the 2022-23 campaign, and the 21-year-old is shooting a sub-par 39.2% from the floor. Yikes.

Although he has struggled to hit anything stretching back to the preseason, Cunningham seemed to find a rhythm late in Saturday’s clash with Indiana, He scored an efficient 12 points and dished 3 assists in the final term. Hopefully, this quarter is a sign of things to come, kick-starting the successful sophomore campaign we know Cunningham is capable of.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Washington Wizards

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

3. Battle of the (2020) Busts

Both prospects were taken in the top 10 of the 2020 NBA Draft, both originate from another country, both have suffered numerous injuries, both are jumbo-sized playmakers, both are defense stoppers, both can’t shoot a lick, both could be something, but could also be major busts. We are of course talking about Deni Avdija and Killian Hayes.

As each of the 2020 cohort become extension-eligible this summer, both Hayes and Avdija seem unlikely to get lucrative new deals. In an important year three, the young playmakers have gotten off to rough starts, each averaging less than 5 points a night on sub-40% shooting from the field. It goes without saying, but these two are in desperate need of a solid performance.

Projected Lineups

Detroit Pistons (1-2)

Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Saddiq Bey, Bojan Bogdanovic, Isaiah Stewart

Washington Wizards (2-1)

Monte Morris, Bradley Beal, Deni Avdija, Kyle Kuzma, Kristaps Porzingis

Question of the Day

Can you name the Pistons starting line-up that defeated the Wizards back on January 18, 2014?

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