The Detroit Pistons have had their fair share of struggles against the Washington Wizards so far this season. After falling a Marcus Morris 3-pointer short of victory on Nov. 21, Washington caught Detroit in a state of flux during their second meeting, spoiling Tobias Harris’ Pistons debut with a 98-86 win on Feb. 19.
But things could be different this time around when the two teams face off at 8 p.m. Monday evening on ESPN. The Pistons enter tonight’s contest having won seven of their last 10 while the Wizards are losers of five straight.
It’s worth noting, however, that three of Washington’s losses during that streak came during a West Coast road trip while the other two came from the hands of the Indiana Pacers and the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed Cleveland Cavaliers.
Meanwhile, despite the Pistons’ recent run, questions abound regarding their commitment to the defensive side of the ball. A unit that was, at times, suffocating during the season’s first 10 games, has shown signs of complete breakdown of late, even in victory. On Saturday against the Philadelphia 76ers, the Pistons gave up 57 first half points and trailed by as many as 10 before rallying for a 125-111 win.
“We’re trying to play about eight minutes a game on the defensive end and my experience is that’s probably not going to be enough,” head coach Stan Van Gundy said.
The Pistons have been playing with fire, giving up 106 points per game over their last five games, three of which were wins. The defensive effort, or lack thereof, remains a point of urgency.
“It’s got to get better,” Van Gundy said. “If we’re truly, truly committed to trying to make a playoff run, the defense we’ve played over the last seven or eight games is inadequate. So we’ll either change or we won’t. We’ll see.”
Currently standing in the eighth seed, a Pistons victory would move them ever closer to taking the next step. The Indiana Pacers, currently just one game ahead of Detroit for the seventh seed, fell to the Atlanta Hawks by 29 on Sunday and now embark on a three-game set against the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, and Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Pistons, meanwhile, kick off a make-or-break nine-game home stand beginning on Wednesday.
With just 16 games left on the slate, the time is now for the Pistons to make their move. It begins tonight.