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Pistons vs. Hornets preview: Charlotte fights for play-in seeding while Detroit tanks

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Killian vs. LaMelo: Round Two?

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Charlotte Hornets Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets visit the Detroit Pistons in what is the second matchup between the two teams in four nights as well as the third game in four nights for both teams. Charlotte rested last night, which gives them an edge in addition to the expected tanking shenanigans from the Pistons’ perspective.

Game Vitals:

When: Tuesday, May 4, 7 p.m. EST
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit Plus, NBA League Pass
Odds: Pistons +6.5

Analysis

As with many late-season NBA games, motivation should play a major factor in tonight’s rematch between the Hornets and Pistons.

Charlotte sits in the eighth position in the Eastern Conference, a full 3.5 games behind the six seed after their recent loss to the Miami Heat. Because of that loss, the Hornets are firmly in the play-in tournament, but their seeding still matters. Charlotte is one game ahead of the Indiana Pacers for the eighth seed, which would allow them to lose one of two in the play-in rather than needing to win two straight games to get to the traditional playoff bracket.

Detroit, on the other hand, is in full-on tank mode.

Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee, and Cory Joseph have sat the last three games and it looks increasingly likely that they’ll remain on the bench for the rest of the year. Meanwhile, the young Pistons have been fully embraced by the coaching staff to close the season.

The most significant decision Dwane Casey may have entering tonight’s game is what to do with Killian Hayes. The rookie point guard came up limping after a drive last night but finished the game. He has yet to play a back-to-back since his return a month ago, and if there is any slight injury concern, you would expect Hayes to sit, despite the Pistons’ depleted roster.

Assuming Killian plays, he’ll be looking for some revenge against fellow lottery pick LaMelo Ball, who won the first career game between the two lottery picks. Hayes played fairly well but it wasn’t enough in Charlotte to overcome Ball’s return.

The other big matchup to watch on the floor is the big man battle between Isaiah Stewart and P.J. Washington. The Hornets have been very good this season with Washington at the 5, but the aptly-nicknamed Beef Stew was a force in the paint when he was not in foul trouble. Charlotte seemed content to allow Stewart to control the paint in exchange for the extra spacing Washington provided, so that remains something to watch.

Projected Lineups:

Detroit Pistons (19-46):
Killian Hayes, Hamidou Diallo, Saddiq Bey, Sekou Doumbouya, Isaiah Stewart

Charlotte Hornets (31-33):
LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, Miles Bridges, Cody Martin, P.J. Washington

Question of the Game

Can Saddiq Bey hit five three-pointers for the third straight game?