Charlotte Bobcats at Detroit Pistons game preview

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Gametime: 7:30 p.m. EST

In the first of a Bobcats-Pistons back-to-back, Charlotte heads to Detroit tonight before facing them at home tomorrow.

This game could have significant implications later on down the line as the playoffs near and a tiebreaker between the two teams battling for the 8 seed could prove enough to separate them.

After a four-game losing skid (including a loss to the lowly Bucks), the Pistons have regained ground with a 5-3 record with wins over the Spurs and the Nets.

It's hard to predict how the Pistons will play now that they've fired head coach Maurice Cheeks. If they behave like the Nets last year, a coaching change could galvanize them. That said, I find such an outcome to be unlikely due to the youth of the team.

They're talented, but nothing if not inconsistent. No players embody this perhaps more than Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith, who have had trouble finding their ground in a new system. Jennings has had difficulty with the transition from dominating the ball as a scorer to picking his spots and trying to pass more. In theory, shooting more conservatively should help his percentages, but it hasn't. The coaching change certainly won't help anything, considering how much Jennings had found help in Cheeks. Josh Smith, on the other hand, has launched three after three with a 23 percent success rate, dragging his scoring efficiency way down. In fact, he's on pace to have the worst three-point shooting season ever for a player with as many shots and games played as he currently has.

Thankfully for Detroit, the Pistons' offense has been somewhat salvaged by their impressive frontcourt of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, who help make Detroit the top offensive rebounding team in the league. Monroe's post game complements Drummond's lack thereof, and Drummond's defense makes up for Monroe's weaknesses on that end of the floor. Drummond's huge, mobile and a scary-good ball-swatter. Al Jefferson will need his entire array of fakes and footwork to keep up his impressive play against a defender like Drummond.

Detroit has depth issues, especially in the backcourt, where they aren't finding much success -- they're dead last in the league in three-point shooting. And despite Drummond's defense in the paint, the Pistons are giving up terrible numbers defensively. Though they're fine defending the paint, their perimeter defense is a huge problem.

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