Washington at Detroit
Time: 7 PM CT (ESPN)
Spread: WAS -1
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Detroit Pistons have cooled. As losers of its past three, it will host the 25-20 Washington Wizards in the first game of a doubleheader Friday night on ESPN at 7 PM (Central Time).
The Wizards are 1-point favorites at hosts, with an over/under set at 208.5 points according to NBA oddsmakers at bookmaker 5dimes.
The Pistons last three losses included two to some pretty mediocre clubs. Falling 107-105 to the Chicago Bulls and 118-107 to the Charlotte Hornets, was followed by yet another more predicable 96-91 loss to the Toronto Raptors. Tobias Harris was held to just 12 points on 4 of 13 shooting, but Andre Drummond had a monster game with 25 points, 17 rebounds, two assists and four steals, while posting a -6 for his 38 minutes of court time. Harris is making a push to be an All-Star reserve, and Drummond will draw consideration for the honor too. The Pistons are a game above .500, wherein they may not have necessarily been expected by most to be a plus-.500 team entering the season.
Among the reasons the Pistons have out-performed this year, is primarily due to a hot start, but also due to the fact that Avery Bradley has quietly been a huge upgrade at the 2-guard position over last season’s starter Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Bradley is a staunch defender and solid scorer, who brings a lot of veteran leadership. The Pistons bench has also been decent, with Langston Galloway serving as a spark scorer, and Boban Marjanovic occasionally serving as a 7-foot-5 freakish monster. Also, Anthony Tolliver’s shooting has gone largely unnoticed, but has been equally as paramount in the second unit providing more for the Pistons than in years prior.
All things said, however, it is still the play of Harris and Drummond that has made Detroit so formidable. Harris has thrived as the isolation scorer he is, averaging 18 points, five rebounds and two assists while posting a PER of 17.7. Drummond, meanwhile, has evolved into one of the best passing big men in the NBA. He is averaging 3.8 assists per game, which ranks third on the team in assists, while also scoring 14.5 points and grabbing 15 boards per contest. He was starting to draw criticisms of being Dwight Howard-like, that is to say, not improving, but this year has been a career year for the center from UConn. The Pistons still have some missing pieces, namely adding another premier scorer, but sitting No. 8 in the East, the team has a chance to move in to better position and potentially be an upset-causer in the 2018 NBA Playoffs.
The Wizards have dropped two straight and four of its past six, to fall to 25-20, but there is not much intrigue or mystery behind this team. It is still a team highly dependent on its backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal, and a team still bereft of depth on the bench, for the most part.
Wall and Beal really have done all that could be asked of a backcourt. Beal leads the team in scoring at 23.7 points per game and Wall is good for nearly 20 a night, in addition to his 9.3 assists, but Otto Porter is still falling short of expectations and Kelly Oubre Jr. is not radically improved from his rookie season a year ago. The Wizards ultimately need to add another superstar to take any sort of monumental jump toward contention, and it may be that the team is able to make a play at DeMarcus Cousins to reunite him with his former Kentucky teammate Wall.
Outside of that, there is no reason to expect this team to do much more than be a “pretender” with the glaring holes in its roster, and the overwhelming mediocrity at 3 of the 5 positions on the court. Marcin Gortat is a good center, and one of the best in the pick and roll, but Markieff Morris is an erratic head case and the Wiz’ bench is overall just poor. Jason Smith has returned to earth some two years after his breakout season in Orlando, which now can be totally labeled a fluke, as he led the league in mid-range shooting that year.
The Wizards are still the Wizards, to be terse and dismissive of the team, once again.