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Hornets vs. Pistons preview: Play resumes with a visit from Charlotte

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Pistons’ playoff destiny is in their own hands, and a win against Charlotte is a step in the right direction.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Detroit Pistons Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Pistons avoided disaster the last time these two met in early January:

Marco Belinelli’s game winner was waived off as time expired and the Pistons escaped with a 115-114 win.

The meeting also gave Pistons fans a true introduction to Boban Marjanovic.

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Game Vitals

When: February 23rd at 7:30 p.m.

Where: Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, MI

Watch: Fox Sports Detroit

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The Pistons are 2-1 against Charlotte this season and DBB discussed the Hornets here, here and here (tl;dr: Kemba Walker is good).

At 24-32, Charlotte finds themselves 2.5 games behind Detroit for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The All-Star break couldn’t have come at a better time for the Hornets, who were losers of four straight and 1-11 in their past twelve games.

Ouch.

Not sure if Frank Kaminsky’s look from All-Star Weekend will help or hurt the Hornets moving forward:

I like Frank, so let’s error on the side of his outfit improving their team.

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Cody Zeller participated in only two of those 12 ugly games thanks to a quadriceps injury and is still iffy to join the Hornets Bobcats Hornets tonight.

While his replacement in the starting lineup — Frank the Tank — has played admirably in the absence of Zeller, there is a clear downgrade on the defensive end without Zeller available.

Per Synergy, when Zeller is the defending big in a pick and roll, the opposing team’s ball handler PPP is at .736; this ranks 4th in the league of all bigs (minimum 200 possessions).

Obviously, this matters because of Detroit’s high use of the standard pick and roll.

On the complete opposite end of the defensive spectrum, we have the Pistons’ Andre Drummond. Using the same scenario, Drummond checks in at 57 (out of a possible 62 qualifying bigs) with the opponents ball handler scoring .95 PPP.

Obviously, this matters because of Charlotte’s high use of the standard pick and roll.

Defense can’t be measured in a singular statistic as there are many — literally — moving parts, but in this case, the numbers match the eye test.

It’s a plus for Detroit if Zeller can’t go tonight, but don’t sleep on Kaminsky — especially on the offensive end.

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Projected Lineups

Charlotte

Kemba Walker, Nic Batum, Frank Kaminsky, Marvin Williams, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

Detroit

Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Andre Drummond, Jon Leuer, Marcus Morris

* Stay tuned to the Game Thread for injury updates (trade updates?)

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Prediction

First Quarter

11:01 Drummond’s first missed hook (should’ve traded him)

10:15 Reggie’s first missed floater (should’ve traded him)

6:09 KCP is now 0-3 from beyond the arc (should’ve traded him)

3:56 Ish checks in for Jackson (Ish should start)

Sorry, I got to check in with Houston at New Orleans

Second Quarter

Ok, I’m back

5:17 Kemba’s three puts Charlotte up 8

3:31 Batum’s uncontested drive to the hoop puts Charlotte up 12

Ugh... back to HOU/NO

Third Quarter

10:02 MKG’s coast-to-coast dunk gives Charlotte a 13 point lead. SVG calls time out (full time out).

6:24 Tobias Harris nails a mid range jumper; Hornets lead at 10

2:12 Stanley Johnson’s three off of an Ish penetration cuts Hornets lead to 4

Fourth Quarter

8:52 Drummond’s offensive board and subsequent ‘and one’ ties the game (so glad we kept him)

4:34 Reggie’s three ball gives Detroit their first lead (so glad we kept him)

1:41 KCP’s three puts Detroit up six (so glad we kept him)

Hornets 102, Pistons 109