Coach Stan Van Gundy changed things up rather dramatically in terms of the Pistons practice schedule this week, stimulated by the team’s poor defensive effort against Minnesota on Sunday. Van Gundy led a hard-working, full-effort practice with the team Monday, reversing a pattern of having a lighter practice to preserve the players’ effort for games.

“We’ve been trying to save their energy, but they didn’t use any last night anyway,” Van Gundy said. He’s not wrong. The Pistons have not looked the same since their 10-2 stretch saw them contain high-octane offenses to some of their lowest outputs of the season.

I expect Van Gundy’s point will be heard loud and clear tonight in Charlotte. The NBA betting line on the Pistons slightly favored the Hornets, but the game will likely be closely played, and every possession will be critical. Every player will have a good sense of the stakes of the situation, both in terms of the standings and in terms of their individual playing time.

Hopefully, Van Gundy’s tactic provides not just a better effort but a win. The Pistons have lost five straight on the road, their worst such streak since late last season. There’s never been a better time to key a bounce back.

According to SportsClubStats.com, the Pistons are down to a 23.3% chance of making the playoffs based on their current record, but a winning record the rest of the way would improve that percentage to over 40%.