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Pistons vs. Hornets preview: Short-handed Pistons fight for lottery positioning

The Detroit Pistons will be without a few key players as they face one of their fellow cellar dwellers

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Detroit Pistons Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

We have reached the point of the season where teams like the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics are fighting for playoff positions and teams like the Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Hornets are suffering “injuries” in hopes of securing the best odds at the number 1 pick.

It is all about evaluating young players and staying as competitive as possible while still losing the game.

That is the only thing the Pistons and Hornets have left to play for and somebody is going to win this game even if both teams would prefer for that to not happen.

Game Vitals

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


The Pistons have been awful historically against the Hornets. It seems like they lose every time that they play, and most of the time the games aren’t close. However, the Pistons are 2-0 against the Hornets this season. That is something I didn’t think I would ever type.

The Pistons and Hornets are the two bottom feeders of the Eastern Conference, but the Pistons are starting to build some separation in the tank standings with Charlotte due to Charlotte’s current 4 game winning streak.

Charlotte likely wasn’t competing for a play-in spot this season no matter what, but they have dealt with some injuries to players like Gordon Hayward and LaMelo Ball that has prevented them from stringing together many wins. Add to that the loss of Miles Bridges due to legal trouble, and it has been a rough season for the Hornets.

The only players injured for the Hornets now are Cody Martin and PJ Washington and with LaMelo Ball rounding back into form, the Hornets are not the same team that the Pistons faced the first couple matchups.

A fully healthy Pistons team can matchup with a fully healthy Hornets team, but the Pistons will not be fully healthy as they will be without Jalen Duren, Jaden Ivey, and Bojan Bogdanovic. Bogdanovic has an “achilles injury,” while Ivey will be out for personal reasons. Duren has already missed the last couple games with his injury.

It would have been fun to see Mark Williams and Jalen Duren matchup as both players were drafted this year, and Duren was actually taken with the Hornets other first round pick. It was a slow start to Williams’ career, but he has started to put things together the last few weeks.

With a couple practices under his belt now and due to the injury to Jaden Ivey, we should get our first real look at RJ Hampton in this game. He played against the Raptors on Saturday, but he didn’t really do much because he just joined the team. I doubt he starts, but he should see a decent chunk of minutes off the bench.

The Pistons probably don’t stand much of a chance in this game without their two leading scorers, but they will be playing a few players that have something to prove on a new team in RJ Hampton and James Wiseman, so maybe they want to show out.

It will take an effort similar to Saturday out of Marvin Bagley III for the Pistons to have a chance in this one. He had 21 points and 18 rebounds in his first game back from injury and looked like the Marvin Bagley the Pistons acquired at the trade deadline last season.

Projected Lineups

Charlotte Hornets (19-43)

LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, Gordon Hayward, JT Thor, Mark Williams

Detroit Pistons (15-46)

Killian Hayes, Alec Burks, Hamidou Diallo, Isaiah Stewart, James Wiseman

Question of the Day

How many games do you think Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks sit over the final 21 games of the season?