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Pistons vs Hornets preview: Turnaround time

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After three straight losses, can the Pistons turn things around?

Detroit Pistons v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Detroit Pistons have lost three straight games, including a back-to-back against Minnesota and Miami earlier this week, heading into tonight’s tilt against the Charlotte Hornets. The Hornets, for their part, have lost four straight games, the latest loss to Memphis on a Ja Morant game-winning layup with under a second to go. Only one team will have their loss streak continue after tonight. The Pistons, who won’t play again until next week Wednesday, need it to be them.

Game Vitals:

When: November 15, 2019, 7:00 p.m. EST
Where: Spectrum Center, Charlotte, NC
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit, NBA League Pass

Analysis:

Well, that’s not what Pistons fans hoped to see this early in the year:

On one hand, yes, it is early in the year, and weird things happen early. On the other hand, losses in November count just as much as losses in March.

The Hornets are ranked 24th in ORTG and 23rd in DRTG, solidly in the bottom third of the NBA in both categories, which was expected after they traded All-Star Kemba Walker for Terry Rozier. Rozier, for his part, has played to expectations - high production (16.8 points per game) on middling efficiency (54.3 TS%) - but he hasn’t even been the most productive guard on his new team.

Devonte’ Graham, the 34th overall pick in last year’s draft, holds that honor, averaging 18 points and 7.3 assists a game OFF THE BENCH for the Hornets after spending half of last year in the G-League. Graham’s ascension has been the story this year for Charlotte, who now have multiple off-the-dribble creators to attack teams with down the end of games.

In Charlotte’s last win, an overtime thriller over the Indiana Pacers, Graham scored a career-high 35 points, including the game-winning free throws:

With the Pistons’ guard defense being as bad as it’s been to start the year, don’t be surprised if Graham has another good night tonight.

The other thing to note with the Hornets has been the play of lottery pick P.J. Washington, who’s shooting 46% from three to start the year. The Pistons have really struggled to defend stretch bigs who play for Charlotte in the past, and Washington is playing mostly power forward but even a little small-ball center for the Hornets. Marvin Williams is on the Pistons-Killer Team for a reason.

The good news for the Pistons is that they should be (mostly) healthy:

Blake Griffin looked excellent in his limited minutes against Minnesota Monday, putting up 19 points, seven rebounds, and six assists in only 24 minutes of play. Derrick Rose looked... less excellent in his return from a (light?) hamstring strain, as part of the starting group. With both of those players back in the fold, Dwane Casey will have to make some difficult (but good!) lineup choices about how much those two guys can play together. Against the Wolves, Rose and Griffin started together - I would expect we don’t see that tonight and Rose returns to his natural role of buoying the bench.

Lastly, the Pistons’ last game was Tuesday, and their next game after tonight is next week Wednesday. After three back-to-backs in the first three weeks of the season and playing the most games in the league, the Pistons will have time to get some more practices with Blake Griffin in, get guys whose roles have changed (like Bruce Brown Jr.) more reps in those roles, and figure out how to fix the defensive issues that have plagued them through 12 games.

Projected Lineups:

Detroit Pistons (4-8):
Bruce Brown Jr., Luke Kennard, Tony Snell, Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond

Charlotte Hornets (4-7):
Terry Rozier, Malik Monk, Miles Bridges, P.J. Washington, Cody Zeller