Where: Time Warner Cable Arena - Charlotte, NC
When: Wednesday, April 1st, 2015 @ 7:00 PM
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit
Listen: 105.1 FM
With the Pistons win against the Atlanta Hawks last night, they gained themselves zero ground on the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. This is thanks to the Indiana Pacers losing to the Brooklyn Nets who are 8-2 over their last 10 games. However, at least they did not lose any games on the position.
I still believe that the Pistons have a chance to make it into the playoffs. While they are 4.5 games behind the eighth spot, with help as well as the Pistons winning at least five of their last eight games, they could mathematically make it into the playoffs. It is not likely, but it is still possible. Charlotte, who only sits 1.5 games ahead of the Pistons with two games left in the series, plays a big role in that dream.
After a five game win streak, the fifth being a win over the Pistons in Detroit, the Hornets were in the seventh spot of the Eastern Conference. Since then, they have only won three of their last 12 games. During that same span, the Pistons have gone 6-6. Over those 12 games the Hornets have averaged only 94.5 points per game while the Pistons have averaged 99.4 points per game. Charlotte's defense, which is third best in the Eastern Conference on the season at 97.4 points per game against, has been allowing 100.5 points per game against over those 12 games.
Now, one of the Hornets' wins was "given" to them one could argue. Their win against Atlanta on Saturday came when the Hawks decided to rest their starters after having clinched the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed. Another one of their other wins was against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Their third win was against the Chicago Bulls. So for almost a month, the Hornets have been playing terrible ball.
The Pistons, on the other hand, have won six of their last eight games and are averaging 103.3 points per game while only giving up 97.8 per contest. This run of success began with a combination of Reggie Jackson starting to play career best ball and when Greg Monroe went down with a knee strain. Either way, the Pistons are playing like a team fighting to make it to the playoffs.
Players to Watch
Pistons: Reggie Jackson
Jackson gave the Pistons everything he had in the Pistons win against Atlanta on Tuesday. But where does that leave him for today? With Spencer Dinwiddie likely out with a sprained ankle, and Brandon Jennings still out with his Achilles tear, that only leaves Jackson and John Lucas III at the point guard position. And I'd rather not do what was suggested on last night's broadcast and run Tayshaun Prince or Jodie Meeks at the point.
Hornets: Al Jefferson
In the two games Jefferson has played against Detroit this year, he is averaging 18.5 points per game as well as nine rebounds. With this being the second night of a back-to-back and Monroe still out, Joel Anthony will be counted on for quality backup minutes which I'm sure some will come against Jefferson. If Anthony can provide the same defense he has been providing lately, this could help limit Jefferson and give the Pistons a chance to win.
Last Time We Met
March 8th, 2015: Pistons 101, Hornets 108
The Pistons, in the middle of their 10 game losing streak that as Joel Anthony put, "kind of hurt us", lost a game to the Hornets thanks to the not-so-frequent-these-days fourth quarter collapse. The Pistons entered the fourth quarter leading by six but would shoot 6-for-23 in the quarter against the Hornets' 11-for-18. Drummond, only playing 23 minutes due to foul trouble finished with 16 points, five rebounds and two blocks. Greg Monroe finished the game with 18 points (on 7-for-11 shooting), 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals (to go with four turnovers). Reggie Jackson had an inefficient night shooting 9-for-21, but finished with 25 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and a steal opposite two turnovers. Al Jefferson banged the Pistons to the tune of 24 points on 10-14 shooting to go with eight rebounds. Mo Williams did not shoot very well, but finished with 21 points and nine rebounds, also getting to the line eight times where he was perfect.
The best description of the East playoff "race" came from Joel Anthony: "So, losing 10 in a row kind of hurt us." But just a bit.— Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) March 29, 2015
Pistons 98, Hornets 89
Pistons: Monroe (knee), Jennings (achilles)
Hornets: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (ankle), Cody Zeller (questionable - shoulder)
Pistons: Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Caron Butler, Anthony Tolliver, Drummond
Hornets: Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Jeff Taylor, Marvin Williams, Jefferson
Will Lance Stephenson be a factor in this game?