It has not been an easy start to the New Year for the Detroit Pistons. Losers of three straight and now out of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference, Detroit (22-21) will try to right the ship tonight against the Washington Wizards (25-20). The game will be nationally televised on ESPN.
So far in the month of January the Pistons have a record of 2-6. That has lead to their slow descent in the Eastern Conference standings to now ninth. Philadelphia, after their win over Boston, has pushed into the playoff picture via tiebreaker over Detroit.
In Wednesday’s loss to the Raptors Detroit got off to a very slow start, losing the first quarter 31-18. Similarly, on the same night, The Wizards allowed Charlotte to score 77 first-half points in an eventual loss to the Hornets. Both teams suffered slow starts and were forced to gather themselves to mount a comeback. Both, unsuccessful.
Unlike the Pistons, however, the Wizards are a likely playoff team. They have one of the best backcourt duos in the NBA in John Wall and Bradley Beal. Detroit is stil trying to weather their storm of injuries to Reggie Jackson, Stanley Johnson, Jon Leuer, and Avery Bradley. And it looks like Bradley may not even go tonight, according to Rod Beard of The Detroit News:
— Rod Beard (@detnewsRodBeard) January 18, 2018
If Bradley is unable to go, the Pistons will be short at shooting guard. Rookie Luke Kennard is dealing with a thumb injury as well and may not be playing at 100% either. Washington has no new injuries other than Shelvin Mack’s torn achilles.
In a sea of bad news, Andre Drummond has been the lone life-preserver vest. He played an outstanding game against the Raptors (25 points, 17 rebounds, 80% shooting) and helped keep the Pistons in the game at all. He should have another favorable matchup tonight against Marcin Gortat. The key to the game will, undoubtedly, come in the backcourt. The Wizards hold a sizable advantage over the Pistons, who may be without their two normal starters there.
Right now the Pistons are an incredibly pedestrian team with all of the injuries they are dealing with. This is the daily reminder that Reggie Jackson is the most important player on the roster and his return to health is critical to the team’s success. Without Jackson, the Pistons really have no flow offensively and miss the pick-and-roll action with Drummond. Detroit will have to scrap together enough defense and good offensive possessions to beat Washington.
(Featured image by Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)