Game Preview: Detroit Starts the Second Half as They Host Hornets

Tonight the Pistons (27-30) start the second half of their season as they play host to the Charlotte Hornets (24-32). The game is a 7:30 EST tip-off from the Palace.

Projected starters

Hornets – Walker, Batum, Kidd-Gilchrist, Williams, Kaminsky

Pistons – Jackson, Caldwell-Pope, Morris, Leuer, Drummond

As of now, these are the projected lineups. However, with the trade deadline fast approaching, things could change in a hurry. The Pistons have been at the center or several major trade rumors as of late. Some of the players that have been mentioned in trade talks have been Jackson, Drummond and most recently KCP. Should any of them, or any other Piston player, is traded by the 3:00 EST deadline they would not be available for tonight’s game.

Assuming the Pistons don’t make a move and play this game with their current roster, this game looks to tilt in Detroit’s favor. The Pistons have won two of three versus the Hornets this year and will be looking to lock up the tie breaker over Charlotte. This is critical when talking about a talented team who is only a few games behind the Pistons in the playoff race.

Detroit enters this game having won six of their previous ten before the All-Star break. In theory, the extra time off should only help the Pistons, particularly Reggie Jackson. Jackson, who has battled tendinitis all year, has never really gotten on track after missing the first few weeks of the season. His 15.2 points and 5.6 assists per game are his lowest totals since joining the Pistons two years ago. Hopefully this break in the season will have given his knees some rest and he will be able to catch a second wind down the stretch.

For the Hornets, the All-Star break couldn’t have come fast enough. They have lost nine of their last ten and are currently on a four-game losing streak. This slide has taken them out of the playoff picture for now and their season feels like it’s slipping away. That makes this game critical for a Hornets team that has one of the best back courts in the game.

Kemba Walker has proven to be one of the better point guards in the game. His 22.5 points per game does lead the team and makes  him one of the better scorers in the Eastern Conference. He is joined in the back court by Nick Batum who is averaging 15.0 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game. These numbers, particularly in terms of rebounds and assists, are some of the best you’ll see from any shooting guard in the league.

Key match up

The match up I’ll be watching tonight will be down low between Drummond and Kaminsky. In theory, this should be a battle that Drummond should dominate. He is a far superior rebounder and should be more than Kaminsky can handle in every aspect. However, Kaminsky is the kind of skilled scorer who has given Drummond fits in the past. He can shoot the ball fairly well and finish at the rim. If Kaminsky can win the battle down low, or even keep it fairly close, the Hornets have a great chance in this game.

Injury report

The Hornets are missing a pair of big men for tonight’s game which has resulted in Kaminsky being moved to the starting lineup. Cody Zeller and Miles Plumlee are both expected to be out with injury for this one.

Image via: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sport

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