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Pistons vs. Hornets preview: Squaring off against the Hornets for the first time

The Pistons travel to Charlotte to face the Hornets for the first time this season, a team they have struggled with recently.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Detroit Pistons Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Pistons had what was probably the upset of the season against the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday. They played a complete game from start to finish and were able to keep Giannis Antetokounmpo mostly in check.

Tonight’s task against the Hornets will not be quite as tough as Monday’s, but the Hornets are off to a solid start to the season and have been a bit of a surprise in the East. They have cooled off a bit since their very good start to the season, but they are still hanging around in the thick of the Eastern Conference Playoff standings.

The Pistons have already won back-to-back games for the first time this season, so why not try to make it 3 straight?

Game Vitals

When: Wednesday, Jan. 5 at 7:00 pm
Where: Spectrum Center in Charlotte, NC
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +10.5

Game Analysis

The Charlotte Hornets are in a place that the Pistons hope to be maybe as soon as next year. They have their building block in LaMelo Ball, who has been very good this season after his Rookie of the Year campaign last year. He is averaging 19.6 points, 7.6 assists, and 5.7 rebounds on 43/39/88 shooting. He has made the jump you expect out of all second-year players and is very clearly the future star the Hornets will build their team around.

It hasn’t just been LaMelo Ball who has made a big jump this season, former Michigan State Spartan Miles Bridges has also made a huge jump this season. He is currently averaging 19.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 3.7 assists and is a clear frontrunner for the Most Improved Players award. It very well could be a contract year explosion for a player set to hit Restricted Free Agency in the offseason after failing to agree to a contract extension, but he is also in his fourth season where players start to make big jumps as they mature and get closer to their prime.

The Hornets have veterans around their solid young core like Gordon Hayward, Terry Rozier, and former Piston Mason Plumlee who complement them well. It is a formula that the Pistons can hopefully replicate as soon as next season and one that the Hornets have been able to pull off successfully this season.

They are still in need of a bit more contributions from their bench, as it is largely anchored by Kelly Oubre, who is scoring 16.2 points off the bench. The Pistons might still be without their bench scoring anchor as Frank Jackson might not play with his ankle injury.

The matchup to watch is going to be Cade Cunningham vs. LaMelo Ball. There are a lot of similarities between LaMelo Ball’s playstyle and Cade Cunningham’s. While both players don’t necessarily play the exact same way, they are both big lead guards that rely more on craftiness and less on athleticism to create their shots. It should be a very fun matchup in the backcourt.

Another Piston in the midst of an offensive explosion like Miles Bridges experienced early this season is Saddiq Bey. After his early-season struggles creeped up to the 30-game mark, he has exploded over his last nine games to the tune of 25 points and 9 rebounds per game. He is coming off a career-high 34 points and 8 3-pointers made against the Bucks on Monday.

The Pistons moved the ball well against the Bucks and made their season-high of 18 threes as a team in the process. Whether that was just a one-game blip or an actual change in the offense remains to be seen.

The Pistons will need that again to beat the Hornets, especially since they have weirdly struggled a lot against the Hornets over the last few season. For whatever reason even though both teams have been in similar spots in the standings, the Hornets always seem to have the Pistons’ number. Hopefully that can change today.

Lineups

Charlotte Hornets (19-19)

LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, Gordon Hayward, Miles Bridges, Mason Plumlee

Detroit Pistons (7-28)

Killian Hayes, Cade Cunningham, Hamidou Diallo, Saddiq Bey, Trey Lyles

Question of the Day

Do you think things are improving for the Pistons and the Bucks game was a sign of things to come or was it just a fluke game?