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Pistons vs. Hornets preview: The Little Caesars Arena era officially begins

The time has come for the Pistons to officially kick off the 2017-2018 season in their fresh, new arena.

NBA: Preseason-Charlotte Hornets at Detroit Pistons Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

There are very few times in life that match the excitement of Christmas as a young kid. Waking your parents up early and running downstairs only to impatiently wait while your parents get the camera. The opening of a new Pistons season is like Christmas morning for me. No matter how good or bad the team is expected to be, it is the same anticipation as I impatiently wait all day for the first game to tip off.

That time is here and we also get to see the brand new, state-of-the-art Little Caesars Arena for the first time in a game that actually matters.

Basketball is back!

Game Vitals

Where: Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, MI
When: 7:00 p.m. EST
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit

Game Analysis

The Pistons and Hornets will square off to begin the regular season just like they did to begin the preseason. The Hornets are a team expected to be competing with the Pistons for one of the last few playoff spots in the East. However, they will not be at full strength as Nic Batum and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are both going to be out.

That doesn’t mean this will be an easy win, as the Hornets will still have all star point guard Kemba Walker. Walker always seems to give the Pistons trouble, and with him now having to take on a bigger load offensively, it could spell disaster. I expect Avery Bradley to draw a matchup with Walker defensively in order to try and contain him.

It is not known who the Pistons will trot out to start the game as Stan Van Gundy is keeping it a secret. I would put my money on the starting lineup being Reggie Jackson, Avery Bradley, Stanley Johnson, Tobias Harris, and Andre Drummond. While this lineup never actually played together during the preseason, this has been the projected lineup for most of the offseason.

It will be interesting to see what Stan Van Gundy opts to do rotation-wise. Will he stick to a nine-man rotation. Will he expand the rotation to 10 or 11 players? Will Henry Ellenson and Luke Kennard be a part of the rotation?

Charlotte is a well-coached team, so they will not go down without a fight. Even without two starters, the Pistons are going to have to play solid defense and hit their shots if they want to win this game. If the Pistons cannot find a way to contain Kemba Walker on defense, this could be a very long night.

Another player to look out for is rookie Malik Monk. Although he did not shoot a very high percentage, he led the Hornets in scoring during the preseason. He cooked the Pistons for 18 points in their preseason matchup, and he will likely have a pretty big role to start the season without Nic Batum. If Avery Bradley does in fact draw the Kemba Walker matchup, Reggie Jackson could have a tough time defensively guarding Monk.

Expect to see a lot of Langston Galloway and Ish Smith if Reggie Jackson struggles to guard Monk.

Projected Lineups

Pistons: Reggie Jackson, Avery Bradley, Stanley Johnson, Tobias Harris, Andre Drummond

Hornets: Kemba Walker, Dwayne Bacon, Jeremy Lamb, Marvin Williams, Dwight Howard

What to watch for

Can Andre Drummond pick up where he left off in the preseason?

He finished the preseason shooting 16-20 from the free throw line (80 percent) and had seven assists in the concluding game as he orchestrated the offense from the elbow. If this is in fact the “new” Andre Drummond, it could be a good season for the Pistons.