The Washington Wizards plan to do big things this season, and getting off to a hot start will certainly help. The Wizards outlasted the upstart Philadelphia 76ers in their opener on Wednesday and will try to make it two wins in a row to begin the campaign when they host the Detroit Pistons on Friday.
Washington’s only major move over the summer was locking up small forward Otto Porter Jr. with a contract extension, and the team is counting on growth from around its roster to help challenge for an Eastern Conference title. Kelly Oubre Jr. began to emerge last season and earned a larger role in 2017-18, which he cemented with 14 points and eight rebounds in 32 minutes off the bench in Wednesday’s 120-115 triumph. The Pistons’ biggest move in the offseason was bringing in shooting guard Avery Bradley, and he made himself at home in a 102-90 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday by bringing some intensity to the defensive end. “We had a defensive mentality,” Bradley told reporters. “I felt like the ball was moving well, it was spread out around the court. We played well as a team (Wednesday). This is the way we need to play every single game.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FS Detroit-plus, NBSC Washington
ABOUT THE PISTONS (1-0): Detroit had the added hype of playing its first game in the new downtown arena on Wednesday and will have to find a way to keep that intensity going on the road after posting a 13-28 record away from home while missing the playoffs last season. Small forward Tobias Harris led the way with 27 points in Wednesday’s win and sees a big improvement in the team’s attitude. “A big emphasis for us and our coaching staff is to get guys to (play to) their greatness, to their spots where they’re capable of making plays and being effective,” Harris told reporters. “Especially (Wednesday) we were able to do that and really exploit that.”
ABOUT THE WIZARDS (1-0): Oubre averaged 20.3 minutes and 6.3 points off the bench last season but became a favorite of his teammates for a willingness to do the little things. “Last year, we said that he was the ‘X’ factor to our team and that he was a big key,” All-Star point guard John Wall told reporters of Oubre after Wednesday’s win. “He used that as motivation through the summer. I can be honest with you and tell the truth that ever since training camp and practice, he’s been doing great. He’s been coming in challenging, making plays and just being smart at it.” Wall got his season off to a decent start with 28 points and eight assists but was just 10-of-28 from the field.
1. Pistons SF Stanley Johnson played a team-high 40 minutes on Wednesday but managed only two points and went 0-of-13 from the floor.
2. Washington PF Jason Smith (shoulder sprain) left Wednesday’s game and is questionable for Friday.
3. The Wizards took two of the three matchups last season, including a 122-108 triumph in the lone meeting in Washington.
PREDICTION: Wizards 109, Pistons 106