What: Detroit Pistons vs. Charlotte Hornets
Time: 7:00 p.m., FSD
Where: Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC
The Detroit Pistons are coming off a discouraging home loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves and they look to shake it off and bounce back tonight against the Charlotte Hornets. The Hornets are coming off two discouraging losses of their own, losing to the Philadelphia 76ers and then falling on a last second hoop at home against the Indiana Pacers. The Pistons invade the Time Warner Cable Arena on Tuesday night looking to continue their quest towards the playoffs. At the moment they sit 2.5 games back of the 7 seed which is occupied in a tie with the Hornets and the Miami Heat. This game tonight is critical for the Pistons in their playoff hopes. Let’s look at the keys to getting a win in Charlotte.
1) Contain Al Jefferson! Jefferson is the type of center that gives the Pistons problems. He’s burly, he’s big, and he’s also skilled, much like Minnesota’s Nikola Pekovic (who scored 29 points against the Pistons on Sunday) and Toronto’s Jonas Valanciunas (who torches Detroit every game). Last year, Jefferson averaged 28.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 3.3 assists against the Pistons in three games. Containing Jefferson is going to be critical and it will go a long way in getting a win. Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe better bring their hard hats tonight and it wouldn’t surprise me if we see a little Joel Anthony mixed in.
2) Charlotte will be missing starting point guard Kemba Walker. Walker’s replacement, Brian Roberts, has stepped in and done a pretty good job in his place, much like D.J. Augustin’s success in replacing Brandon Jennings. Roberts gave the Pistons problems last year, scoring 13 points on 4/6 shooting in his lone game against Detroit when he was with the New Orleans Pelicans. Augustin will have to do a good job of keeping Roberts out of the paint. If Roberts gets inside, that opens up Jefferson, Cody Zeller, and shooters like Gary Neal and Lance Stephenson. Speaking of Stephenson…
3) Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will have to match the energy of Lance Stephenson. Stephenson is a pest who can get in the head of the opponent and throw them off their game. Caldwell-Pope will have to match Stephenson with as much intensity and as much defense and perkiness to make it tough on him. These are the types of games that Caldwell-Pope thrives in. He plays a tough opponent, brings it defensively, and then makes a big impact on offense. Charlotte is near the bottom of the league in defending 3-point shooting so this is an opportunity for a guy like Caldwell-Pope to have an impact.
Prediction: Pistons show up to play today. Stan Van Gundy won’t allow them to put up 2 plunkers. Pistons win this big critical game 98-90.