The Eastern Conference this season has a clear gap between its contenders and non-contenders. Six teams have records of 10-6 or better, the Brooklyn Nets are 9-8 and then there’s a bunch of below-average teams fighting for the No. 8 seed.
Two of those squads are the 6-11 Detroit Pistons and 6-12 Charlotte Hornets, who will face each other in a home-and-home series starting today (7 p.m. ET Wednesday).
The first game will be in Charlotte, where the Hornets beat the Pistons 109-106 two weeks ago on a Malik Monk three-pointer at the final buzzer.
Will this game be another close one? Who will come out on top? USAbetting will preview and dissect the relevant factors before concluding with our Detroit Pistons at Charlotte Hornets predictions.
Can Cody Zeller Stay Competitive With Andre Drummond Inside?
One interesting storyline behind this game is the fact that the Hornets reportedly are wanting to trade for Drummond, the Pistons’ star center. Despite the Pistons’ slow start to the season, Drummond is averaging career highs in scoring (17.8 points per game) and rebounding (16.8 per game). It makes sense that the Hornets, one of the league’s worst rebounding teams, would want Drummond.
However, you have to imagine that Hornets starting center Cody Zeller will be motivated to play a strong game as he matches up against Drummond inside. Zeller is on a four-year, $56 million contract. That’s not a contract fitting for someone who plays backup behind a legitimate All-Star caliber player.
Zeller is probable to play in this game with a bruised hip, but he is a strong, skilled competitor who has what it takes to keep Drummond’s impact at least somewhat contained. Let’s see what sort of effort and fight he brings in this contest.
Will Blake Griffin Bully Charlotte’s Young Bigs?
Griffin has missed 12 early games of this Pistons season with knee and hamstring injuries. He did appear against the Hornets two weeks ago, but it was just his second game back in the lineup. He forced shots, finishing 6-of-19 from the field with 19 points, three rebounds, six assists and four turnovers.
The 30-year-old star power forward has fit in better on the offensive end in his last two contests, averaging 20.5 points per game on a 67.7 true-shooting percentage. Both games were easy wins against fellow sub-.500 Eastern Conference teams.
The Hornets give most of their power forward minutes to rookie P.J. Washington and second-year player Miles Bridges. Both guys are certainly versatile, but at 6’7” and 6’6”, respectively, they will have trouble guarding Griffin if he is playing aggressively near the basket. Griffin needs to use his size and experience against Charlotte’s smaller big men, even though he is still finding his explosiveness again.
Will the Hornets Win the Turnover Battle Again?
A major key in the Hornets winning the first game between these games was their ability to avoid turnovers while forcing Piston turnovers. Detroit coughed up the ball 19 times, compared to just 10 for the Hornets. In total, Charlotte attempted 15 extra field goals and five more free throws, allowing the squad to win despite a mediocre shooting game.
Detroit has somewhat curbed its issues in the turnover battle since then and that is likely due in part to Blake Griffin finding his role in the offense again.
However, today, the Hornets would love to get back to what they did in the first matchup between these teams. Charlotte’s half-court offense isn’t good enough to score consistently against Detroit’s respectable half-court defense, so the Hornets will need to create some live-ball turnovers to get in a rhythm.
Our Preview’s Detroit Pistons vs Charlotte Hornets Predictions & Betting Picks Verdict
While these teams are very comparable in record, the Pistons are considerably better. Detroit’s per-game point differential is minus 2.4, compared to minus 8.0 for Charlotte. The Pistons also appear to be getting the real Blake Griffin back after two solid recent performances, while the Hornets are regressing to their mean with five straight losses.
I expect Detroit to show their significantly superior frontcourt in this game and clean up some of the turnover issues the squad had in Charlotte last time around. The Pistons should lock up the Hornets, capably defending in the half court, and keep this game on the lower-scoring side. These are USAbetting’s Detroit Pistons vs Charlotte Hornets predictions for this NBA game preview:
- The best of the trustworthy betting sites for USA customers make the Pistons a 4-point favorite in this contest. We suggest betting on the Pistons -4pts @ -110 with Bovada, 5Dimes, Intertops, BetOnline or Bookmaker.
- The projected over/under for this game is either 216 or 216.5 total points, which is a very moderate estimated total. Given that both teams play at a below-average pace and neither squad’s offense is playing particularly well, the selection here is taking the under 216.5pts @ -110 with Bovada or Bookmaker sportsbooks.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.