Each game is a learning experience for the youthful Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards, who meet in the nation’s capital on Tuesday night.
The first week of the season has been a mixed bag, but both have reason for optimism.
Detroit has lost two games following its season-opening win over the Orlando Magic, while Washington began with two successive wins before losing 117-107 in overtime to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday.
The Pistons boast an impressive core of young players led by second-year point guard Cade Cunningham, who is averaging 18.3 points and seven assists.
Cunningham led the Pistons with 22 points in a 124-115 loss to Indiana Pacers on Saturday. Detroit led by 14 points in the first quarter but struggled defensively in the second half. Defense has been an early concern for the Pistons, who have allowed an average of 121 points in their first three games.
“We just have to learn from some of the things we have to learn,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said, “as far as shot selection, how to switch, containing the basketball, transition defense, all those things.”
The Pistons are looking to reverse a few troubling trends against the Wizards, who have won the past five meetings. Also, Washington has won 14 consecutive home games against Detroit, dating back to Jan. 18, 2014.
Veteran guard Bradley Beal scored 27 points Sunday to lead five scorers in double figures against Cleveland, but the Wizards crashed in overtime when they committed four turnovers and scored just four points.
“Trying to sustain our play is something we have to really lock in on,” Washington coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “Turnovers were big and offensive rebounding. Those two areas alone I think are 40-plus points. Those two areas have haunted us.”
Beal is averaging 23 points on 61.7 percent shooting after missing most of last season due to wrist issues.
Forward Rui Hachimura is also off to an encouraging start. The fourth-year forward scored a season-high 16 points Sunday.
Yet, second-year forward Deni Avdija has been unable to stay on the floor while encountering foul trouble in the past two games. He picked up four fouls in his first 11 minutes on the court Sunday. Unseld said he would like Avdija and his entire team to work on being more resilient.
“I think it’s important that we learn to fail quickly,” Unseld said. “Whatever it is, process why it didn’t go your way and move on. You have to think about the next play. If you don’t, it lingers and starts to eat at you, and all of a sudden you’re just not in the moment. That type of mentality snowballs.”
Washington will see a few new faces in the Pistons’ lineup, including rookie shooting guard Jaden Ivey, who had 17 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in Saturday’s loss to Indiana.
Detroit has also been pleased by the early play of 18-year-old rookie center Jalen Duren, who is averaging 9.3 points and 7.7 rebounds off the bench.
The Pistons also received a spark on Saturday from second-year forward Isaiah Livers, who scored eight points in 16 minutes after missing the first two games with a sore hip.
–Field Level Media