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Pistons vs. Hornets preview: Likely full-strength Pistons face off against short-handed Hornets

We can finally properly evaluate this team.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Charlotte Hornets Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

If you haven’t yet heard, Monte Morris and Cade Cunningham are both probable to play in tonight’s game. This means that the Pistons will have a fully healthy roster for the first time this season, which means it is now game 1 and we can properly evaluate this team.

And on the Hornets side of things, they just traded Terry Rozier to the Miami Heat for Kyle Lowry and a future 1st round pick, so they will be without their Piston-killer.

The last two Pistons wins have come against a short-handed team that just made a trade. The first time it was the Toronto Raptors to end the Pistons record-long losing streak. And on MLK Day, the Pistons defeated a short-handed Wizards team who they just made a trade with.

So, I wouldn’t bet any money on the Pistons winning this one, but there is a good chance of it happening.

Game Vitals

Where: Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, MI
When: Wednesday, January 24 at 7 pm EST
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons (-2.5)

Analysis

As I said above, Terry Rozier has a tendency to go off against the Pistons, so the Hornets now being without him is a big deal. It sounds like the Hornets are trying to reroute Kyle Lowry, who they got in return for Rozier, so he likely won’t play a game for them.

The Hornets still have LaMelo Ball, but not a ton of other pieces that are instilling fear into opposing teams. Second year Center Mark Williams is putting together a very solid sophomore campaign, but he will be out with an injury. The Hornets are also likely without Gordon Hayward, so they will be relying on a lot of young players against a Pistons team that has been playing a lot better since acquiring Danilo Gallinari and Mike Muscala.

The Hornets do have number 2 overall pick, Brandon Miller, who is putting together a solid, but not really talked about, rookie season. He enters today’s contest averaging 14.9 points on 44 percent shooting from the field and 38 percent shooting from beyond the arc. The Hornets’ decision to take him over Scoot Henderson was controversial to a lot of people, but he has done a good job living up to the pick so far.

The aforementioned spacing created by Muscala and Gallinari’s shooting competency has allowed young guys like Jaden Ivey and Ausar Thompson to thrive, and now we will get to likely see Cade Cunningham back and see how the improved spacing helps him. I am sure there will be some rust, but seeing how close the last few games have been for the Pistons, having Cade healthy probably would have been enough to beat the Timberwolves and steal one of the Bucks games.

It will also be interesting to see how the ball handling duties are split between Cunningham and Ivey, with Ivey being on a bit of a heater as the lead guard the last few games.

We may also be getting the long-awaited debut of Monte Morris. One of two offseason acquisitions by the Pistons, he is yet to play a game for his favorite team growing up due to various injuries. His allergies to turnovers is much-needed on a team that turns the ball over way too much.

If Morris takes Killian Hayes’ spot in the rotation, you would be replacing a non-factor on offense with a guy who can hit open shots and keep the offense moving. It could do wonders for a team that is already looking better with improved spacing.

Another change that was made to the rotation in Monday’s game against the Bucks was Isaiah Stewart off the bench, where he was one of the best players on the floor defending Giannis and pressuring the rim inside while playing as the backup center. This is a role that many Pistons fans have been clamoring for Stewart to play, and the early returns have been pretty good. We will see if it was just Monty Williams easing him back in after returning from injury, or a permanent change.

The Pistons have a good shot in this game, as evidenced by the fact they are favored, but they have also historically struggled against the Hornets, so I would not be penciling this one in as a win yet.

Lineups

Detroit Pistons (4-39): Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Bojan Bogdanovic, Kevin Knox, Jalen Duren

Charlotte Hornets (10-31): LaMelo Ball, Brandon Miller, Cody Martin, Miles Bridges, Nick Richards

Question of the Day

Do you think the Pistons play the last few games is sustainable or just a stretch of hot shooting?