Opening Night at the Palace is finally here! After what seemed like the longest offseason ever, the Pistons are finally ready to debut their new look roster at home against the reequipped Wizards of Washington. A few days after their final preseason matchup, the Wizards made a much needed move to push them back into the cusp of playoff contention in 2014. With the injury to big man Emeka Okafor, the Wizards listed Okafor as out indefinitely, leaving a hole in the Washington frontline. With no timetable set for his return, the Wizards decided to bolster their front court prior to the start of the season, acquiring center Marcin Gortat from the Phoenix Suns.
The Wizards shipped Emeka Okafor and his expiring contract to the Suns along with a protected first round pick in next year’s loaded draft class for Marcin Gortat, Shannon Brown, Kendall Marshall, and Malcolm Lee. After the deal was official, the Wizard roster stood at 18, needing to waive at least three players prior to Opening Night. That they did, waiving three of the four players acquired in the Gortat deal; Lee, Brown, and Marshall. All have yet to find new homes as the season gets underway.
With the new look Wizards, comes an even bigger challenge for the new look Pistons frontcourt that includes headline acquisition Josh Smith, the much improved Andre Drummond, and the fundamentally sound big man out of Georgetown, Greg “The Moose” Monroe.
With the injuries to the Piston backcourt, Head Coach Maurice Cheeks has yet to see his team healthy against an NBA caliber opponent. Brandon Jennings, who has been sidelined with a hairline fracture in his jaw is out for the season opener and is projected to miss the first four games of the season. The Pistons hope to see him return to action next Friday, November 8th, against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Chauncey Billups recently announced that he and fellow guard Will Bynum will get the start in the backcourt Wednesday night. A difficult task for the shorthanded Piston backcourt against one of the most exciting backcourts in the league with point guard John Wall and shooting guard Bradley Beal.
The last time these two teams faced each other, it was an exciting preseason matchup between two possible 2014 playoff teams. The Pistons came out victorious in a 99-96 win at the Palace behind the heroics of Chauncey Billups’ pair of threes in the final minutes of the game.
With a much improved Piston frontline, along with the recent deal that brought the “Polish Hammer” (One of my favorite nicknames), Marcin Gortat to Washington, the matchup in the frontcourt between these two playoff caliber opponents has to be our Key Matchup of the game.
With a projected frontline of Trevor Ariza, Nene, and Marcin Gortat for Washington, the Pistons stellar frontline of Josh Smith, Greg Monroe, and Andre Drummond, will have their hands full on Opening Night trying to contain the Wizard big men. Ariza posted averages of 9.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG, and 2 assists a contest in just under 27 minutes a game for Washington in 2013. Nene had just about 13 points and 7 boards for the Wizards last year, and Gortat posted a stat line of 11 points and 8 boards, not to mention nearly 2 blocks a game last year with the Phoenix Suns.
For Detroit’s frontline, they pose a formidable group of guys poised to have big years in 2013-2014. The staple in the post for Detroit, Greg Monroe, averaged nearly 16 and 10 for the Pistons last season. Andre Drummond averaged almost 8 points and 8 boards a game in just an average of 21 minutes a game in his rookie campaign. As for the new guy on the block, Josh Smith, well he held his own as arguably the best player on a playoff team last season in Atlanta. Smith averaged 17.5 points, 8.4 boards, and 4.2 assists in 35 minutes of action in 2012-2013. Smith has also shown his newly improved three-point shot throughout the preseason. Shooting beyond the arc at a clip of 40.6 percent during the preseason, not to mention a game winning three point field goal at the buzzer to finish off the Minnesota Timberwolves in the final game of the preseason.
– Television: Fox Sports Detroit
– Radio: 97.1 FM The Ticket (Detroit)
HC: Maurice Cheeks
PG: Will Bynum
SG: Chauncey Billups
SF: Josh Smith
PF: Greg Monroe:
C: Andre Drummond
HC: Randy Wittman
PG: John Wall
SG: Bradley Beal
SF: Trevor Ariza
C: Marcin Gortat
– Brandon Jennings: OUT (Jaw)
– Rodney Stuckey: OUT (Thumb)
– Luigi Datome: PROBABLE (Hamstring)
– Otto Porter Jr.: OUT (Hip)
– Chris Singleton: OUT (Foot)
PREDICTION: 101-92 DETROIT
– I’m taking the home team in this one, as the Wizards still are adjusting to life with Marcin Gortat. Even with a depleted back court during the preseason, Chauncey Billups and Will Bynum proved me wrong last week as I went with the Wizards. Let’s see if the Billups/Bynum duo can back me up on this prediction to start of the 2013-2014 Regular Season.