Recently we learned the Wizards entire slate of games for the upcoming 2013-14 season and highlighted a few of the schedule's notable matchups. Now we go a bit deeper by counting down the 10 most interesting contests.
Game No. 10: Wizards at Bobcats, January 7
Game No. 9: Wizards vs. Kings, February 9
Game No. 8: Wizards vs. Knicks, November 23
Game No. 7: Wizards vs. Warriors, January 5
Game No. 6: Wizards vs. Magic, December 2
Game No. 5: Wizards vs. Thunder, February 1
Game No. 4: Wizards vs. Bulls, January 13
Game No. 3: Wizards vs. Cavaliers, November 16
Game No. 2: Wizards vs. Heat, November 2
Game No. 1: Wizards at Pistons, October 30
The interest: This game pits two non-divisional foes. Neither side has a recent All-Star, both teams have missed the playoff four straight seasons. Based on that data, this matchup doesn't suggest must watch but rather must find something better to do. Yet based on 2013-14 projections, this game - or rather this matchup - sets up as truly significant for the Wizards. Most Eastern Conference forecasts have three postseason slots up for grabs. After fortifying their rosters - the Wizards by keeping their core together, the Pistons by adding two notable free agents - Washington and Detroit figure prominently in the next tier. That adds extra juice to the head-to-head battles. So does this: Detroit swept Washington in four games last campaign. Lastly, this is the season opener. After an offseason and training camp's worth of talk, it will simply be time to get it on.
The Pistons: Already blessed with the big man combo of the savvy Greg Monroe and the hulking Andre Drummond, the Pistons added former Atlanta stalwart Josh Smith to the frontcourt, ex-Milwaukee point guard Brandon Jennings to the backcourt. How this quartet gels under new head coach Maurice Cheeks make for an intriguing story line, especially since Smith and Jennings have shoot-first, pass-second reputations. Chauncey Billups returns to the Motor City for veteran guidance while first-round pick Kentavious Caldwell-Pope brings a great name and perimeter-shooting prowess.
The stat: Looking for reasons why the Pistons swept the Wizards last season, two stats standout. Detroit held a 50-40 per game rebounding average. Emeka Okafor grabbed nine boards per game, but no other Wizard averaged even six. Nene (in two games) and Kevin Seraphin combined to average 8.3 rebounds. The other stat, 3-pointers. The Pistons averaged 9.0 per game - more than double Washington's 4.3. The Wizards only shot 27 percent from beyond the arc in the series with Bradley Beal missing all 13 of his 3-point attempts.
The matchup: With Smith joining the 6-foot-11 Monroe and the 270-pound Drummond, Detroit will sport one of the most physically dominant frontcourts in the league. With Nene, Okafor and Seraphin the Wizards have bodies to bang right back. Now it's a matter of doing just that. Based on the aforementioned rebounding statistic, that didn't happen so much last season. A healthy Nene will help immensely. Will he stay healthy for all four matchups this season and will Seraphin step up if the answer to the Nene question is no. We'll see.