Pistons in DC
Tonight's game could have huge implications down the stretch because a Detroit win would give the Pistons a 3-1 win in the season series with the Wizards or, it could mean nothing if either team creates seperation and pulls away.
My guess is that the East will stay jam-packed right down to the finish. The WIz have flaws like everyone else but as long as the Big 3 and Brendan Haywood stay healthy, they are going to be in the hunt for the top two seeds.
In my mind, the key to tonight's game will be Antawn Jamison. The Pistons will once again try to pound him in the post with Rasheed Wallace, Chris Webber and Antonio McDyess (they combined for 50 points in a win over Indiana Sunday and at one point, Wallace posted up seven straight times against Troy Murphy). However, as we saw in the win at Detroit Friday night, Jamison can give the Pistons an equal amount of matchup problems because he can step out and stroke the 3-ball and can also put it on the deck and get to basket and/or free throw line. If Jamison can knock down a few threes AND get some free throw attempts, the Wiz will be in good shape.
A couple of other thoughts:
-Don't count on seeing Tough Juice go 1-for-9 and score 8 points like he did at Detroit the other night. He has traditionally killed the Pistons. By the way, I play in a rec basketball league with one of Tough Juice's cousins, Jarvis, and a few relatives/boys of some of the other Wiz such as Andray Blatche and Calvin Booth. We play on Monday night's and Tough Juice and Ms. Tough Juice come to watch our games. Last night, Coach Tough Juice wasn't messing around. "If ya'll start to look tired, I'm taking you out," he yelled from the sideline. We won though and are now 2-1. Word has already gotten back to the fellas on my game. Haywood: "I hear you are an unconscious gunner." He's got a point.
-Chauncey Billups is not 100 percent on that calf that forced him to miss a few games but as he gets his legs back, he'll return to form. From where I was sitting Friday night at the Palace, he lacked a little bit of his usual explosiveness and seemed to be willing to settle for the outside shot. Of course, with the game on the line in the fourth, he nailed three big threes to give the Pistons a shot at the win.
-Detroit's bench doesn't scare anyone and in that sense, the Pistons are very similar to the Wiz. Flip Murray and Nazr Mohammed don't play anymore, Lindsey Hunter is a capable defender and gives Gilbert a hard time but he's not a scorer and Carlo Delfino's nice games come and go. Whover gets the most from their bench tonight will win the game.
-I have to correct a mistake I made in a story I wrote for Sunday's paper. In the article, I describe a key series at the end of Friday's win at Detroit by saying that the Wiz messed up a pick-and-roll play that allowed Rasheed Wallace to get that semi-open three-pointer with 7.9 seconds remaining. He missed. According to a couple of assistant coaches, the Wiz did the correct thing in doubling Chauncey Billups, who then passed over to the open Wallace. Brendan Haywood's job was to rotate to the top of the key towards Wallace and he did it, though he was a little bit late. Haywood said he got a good hand up in Wallace's face. Anyway, that was my bad on the mistake.
-Anyone who thinks that Kevin Garnett has slipped even the slightest bit should have seen last night's Minny win over the Suns. (thank goodness for ti-vo). KG finished with 44 and totally dominated the fourth quarter and the Wolves snapped that 17-game win streak.
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