Detroit Pistons vs. Washington Wizards Pick & Prediction JANUARY 27th 2024

The Pistons will seek their second victory over the Washington Wizards this month when the teams meet on Saturday afternoon in Detroit.

The Wizards will have a different head coach patrolling the sidelines for this matchup.

Wes Unseld Jr. was moved upstairs Thursday into an advisory role. Assistant Brian Keefe was named interim head coach.

The move didn’t change the team’s fortunes at the outset. The Utah Jazz extended Washington’s losing skid to six games with a 123-108 decision on Thursday.

The Wizards trailed throughout the second half and made only 23.3 percent of their 3-point attempts for the game.

“We didn’t hit shots,” Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma said. “We played with great effort. Probably one of our best effort nights.”

A lack of consistent effort was one reason cited by team president Michael Winger for the coaching change.

“In the absence of 48 minutes of competitiveness, in the absence of collective team basketball progress over the course of time, irrespective of the individual improvement, we have an issue to address,” Winger said. “And that’s sort of how that conversation unfolded.”

Keefe has been an assistant coach with five NBA teams. He joined Unseld’s staff prior to this season.

“Defense has to be our calling card,” Keefe said. “We have to see improvement on that. That’s going to be my first step. And I’ve always thought that. Basic tenets of the NBA — I like unselfish basketball; I like spacing; I like making the simple play. But our focus right now, for us, is we’ve got to see growth defensively.”

The Wizards’ current slide began with a 129-117 loss to the Pistons on Jan. 15. Alec Burks led Detroit with a season-high 34 points as the Pistons shot 55.6 percent from the field. Jaden Ivey had 24 points and six assists, while center Jalen Duren powered for 20 points and 19 rebounds.

The Pistons notched their fifth win of the season on Wednesday, the Charlotte Hornets 113-106. Bojan Bogdanovic led the way with 34 points.

Monte Morris, who was traded by Washington to Detroit during the offseason, made his season and Pistons’ debut. Morris, who had been sidelined with a quad injury, played 11 minutes and contributed seven points and three assists.

“I feel like there’s going to be plenty more wins to come,” Morris said. “We’re just getting closer, and once we get Cade (Cunningham) back, it’s going to be a whole different dynamic on the team, as far as everything out there. I think we’re coming together.” Cunningham, Detroit’s franchise player, has missed eight consecutive games with a left knee strain. He could return on Saturday.

The Pistons outscored the Hornets 24-14 in the fourth quarter. Duren’s tip-in with 1:12 remaining was the go-ahead basket. He added a dunk in the final minute.

“We talked about competing, poise and execution,” Pistons coach Monty Williams said. “We had done those three things, but we hadn’t closed. (Wednesday), we closed.”

Detroit is now 1-3 on a six-game homestand. The game on Saturday is the front end of a back-to-back. The Pistons will close out the homestand against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday afternoon.

The Wizards will travel to San Antonio afterward to face the Spurs on Monday night.

–Field Level Media

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