Pistons at Wizards preview
Jamison is a former All-Star, while Miller has won the Rookie of the Year and Sixth Man of the Year awards during his career, so having them both back will be a huge boost.
Gilbert Arenas (knee surgery) and Brendan Haywood (wrist) have both returned to form after missing most of last season due to injury. Arenas is 11th in the league in scoring at 24.0 per game and is averaging 5.9 assists per game. Haywood is sixth in the NBA in rebounds (10.8 per game) and is averaging 11.5 points per game.
Two-time All-Star Caron Butler is having another stellar season and is averaging 16.9 points and 7.6 rebounds this season. Andray Blatche has started off the season hot and is averaging 14.3 points and 6.5 rebounds.
“We got our hands full, Washington is an outstanding team,” Pistons coach John Kuester said. “We played them in the preseason, we know how talented they are. They’ll have Jamison back. We got to make sure the pace of the game is what we need. We got to do a great job of rebounding.”
Key matchup — Pistons Rodney Stuckey vs. Wizards Gilbert Arenas: Arenas is one of the most dangerous offensive players in the league so containing him will have to be a priority for Stuckey and the Pistons. Stuckey (16.0 points) has done a nice job shouldering some of the scoring load left by the injuries to Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince, and will need to continue that, but his defense will on Arenas’ will likley be the key to the game.
“Stuckey is potentially one of the best defensive guards in our league,” Kuester said. “Anytime you face a player of (Arenas’) ability, you just want to keep him in check. Make sure you do a great job of contesting all his shots. Don’t allow him to get into the teeth of your defense, that’s where he can create not only opportunities for himself, but others. We got to do a great job of keeping him in front of us and make sure we don’t just give him easy opportunities.”
The skinny — This is an important game for the Pistons, who are playing the first game of a back-to-back (they host Dallas on Sunday) before heading to the West Coast next week for games at Los Angeles (Lakers), Portland, Utah and Phoenix. Detroit then hosts Cleveland after its West Coast trip.
Charlie Villanueva is coming off a huge 30-point game against the Bobcats, where he didn’t even play in the fourth quarter. The Pistons will need a big game out of him and Ben Gordon (23.8 points per game).
Jonas Jerebko will once again have a tough defensive assignment in Butler, but will have Austin Daye to back him up if he gets in foul trouble. Daye struggled against Charlotte, but had two solid games before that.
Facing Ben Wallace won’t be a fun return from the shoulder injury for Jamison. Wallace is back among the league leaders in rebounds and blocked shots and looking like the Wallace that won four NBA Defensive Player of the Year awards.
The Pistons will be without starters Hamilton (ankle) and Prince (back).
“Our guys have done a great job,” Kuester said of his team overcoming injuries to two starters. “Losing Tayshaun and Rip is part of the NBA, where you have injuries. But Jonas, Austin and (DaJuan) Summers are all going to be contributors to this organization in time. Jonas has done a real nice job being a starter the last few games. We just have to have other people pick it up. Ben Gordon and Stuckey and Bynum have done a great job of running our team. I’m very proud of what they’ve done and accomplished. The whole key has been we’ve tried to defend, when you defend it gives you a chance to win games.”
Prediction: Wizards 97, Pistons 91; Pemberton’s record 4-4, on a four-game win streak