Matchup: Washington Wizards (30-35) vs. Detroit Pistons (34-32)
When: Monday, 8:00 p.m. (TV: CSN, CSNmidatlantic.com via NBC Sports Live Extra)
Season series: Washington leads 2-0
Standings: Whatever was said last week about must-win games, double it. After an 0-3 road trip and five straight losses, the Wizards return home 3 1/2 games out of the playoffs. “This leaves us in a really bad position," John Wall said of Saturday's 116-100 loss at Denver complete with fourth quarter collapse. This followed a wire-to-wire blowout at Utah Friday in arguably Washington's most lethargic performance of the season.
"We had an opportunity the other night where two teams ahead of us lost and it was an opportunity to get a game and we lost," Wall continued. Tonight we lost again so we just keep digging ourselves a bigger hole with 17 games left. We have to go a remarkable 15-2 basically."
Wall's required record possession is a touch extreme, but not by much, not anymore.
The good news is that Detroit occupies the eighth and final playoff spot, meaning Washington can pick up a full game with a win. Same for Wednesday's home matchup against the ninth place Chicago Bulls (32-32). Once these two games pass, the Wizards will have just 15 games remaining with only six at home.
Deal without Beal?: The last three games were played without Bradley Beal (sprained pelvis) though the wing guard joined the team for the last two. That would give some sense that the team believes Beal is close. Beyond the obvious of being better off with their second-leading scorer and top perimeter, the Wizards simply need some lineup stability. It's clear coach Randy Wittman is searching for any and all successful combinations, as evidenced by minutes for newcomers Marcus Thornton and J.J Hickson.
Revving up: Detroit opened the post-All Star break with the loss at Washington, its third straight to the Wizards, fourth straight overall and eighth in 10 games. After another loss the next game, the Pistons reversed course with a 7-3 record over their last 10 games. The offense, fueled by the backcourt of Reggie Jackson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, picked up with over 113 points per during the last four games.