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Pistons vs. Hornets preview: Detroit looks to avoid a 16th straight loss to Charlotte

The Pistons have given up 140+ points in the two previous matchups.

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

A night after losing to the Boston Celtics, the Detroit Pistons travel to the Charlotte Hornets looking to break a 15-game losing streak against the Hornets. Both of this year’s matchups have resulted in Charlotte scoring 140 points in blowout wins.

In addition to the recent history, the Pistons and Hornets are two teams with much different goals this season. Detroit currently holds the third-worst record in the league, only a half-game ahead of the Orlando Magic. Charlotte ranks ninth in the East and is only two-and-a-half games ahead of the Washington Wizards to stay in the play-in tournament.

The Pistons have looked better recently, but they will have their hands full in order to avoid the streak rising to 16.

Game Vitals

When: 7 p.m. ET
Where: Spectrum Center, Charlotte, North Carolina
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +10

Analysis

Detroit’s defense has been downright bad in both losses to Charlotte this season.

In the last matchup a couple of weeks ago, the Hornets pushed the pace at every opportunity including off Detroit’s made shots. And when the Pistons forced Charlotte into half-court offense, LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier drove into the middle of Detroit’s defense with little to no resistance.

As a result, Ball and Rozier produced a combined 56 points, 23 assists, and 15 rebounds while shooting over 50 percent from both inside and outside the arc. If that happens again, the Pistons will once again be out of the game before halftime.

Detroit’s starting backcourt of Cory Joseph and Cade Cunningham simply don’t have the foot speed to keep up with Ball and Rozier for a full game, so the Pistons’ frontcourt is going to be critical in providing disciplined help defense to both contain Charlotte’s ball handlers without compromising rotations.

The most obvious solution to the defense for Detroit is more minutes for Killian Hayes. The second-year point guard has been particularly strong defensively recently. Hayes is easily the Pistons’ best point-of-attack backcourt defender. He stays in front of his counterparts well and his terrific hands make life difficult for ball handlers in a way none of his teammates can replicate.

More minutes for Hayes means a drop off defensively, but it may be worth it against Charlotte’s bad defense. Hayes played 7 more minutes than Joseph in the last Charlotte game and produced 11 points and 12 assists as a result.

Offensively, all eyes will be on Cade Cunningham as usual. Cunningham is coming off an excellent offensive performance against the Boston Celtics which fell short in large part because of foul trouble. Early foul trouble has been a common reoccurrence for Cunningham lately. He will need to play solid defense without reaching so he can stay on the floor and expose Charlotte’s porous defense.

Projected Lineups

Detroit Pistons (14-46)

Cory Joseph, Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Isaiah Stewart

Charlotte Hornets (30-31)

LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, Miles Bridges, P.J. Washington, Mason Plumlee

Question of the Night

Will we see more of the budding chemistry of Cade Cunningham and Marvin Bagley as the season closes?