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The Hornets open the season on the road against the Pistons

Previewing the Charlotte Hornets opening night game against the Detroit Pistons

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Detroit Pistons Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

What: Charlotte Hornets at Detroit Pistons

When: October 18th, 7:00 p.m. EST

Where: Little Caesars Arena; Detroit, Michigan

The Charlotte Hornets play the Detroit Pistons tonight, and for the first time since last April, the result matters.

Opening night is almost always exciting. Everyone has expectations, and everything seems possible. About 90 percent of those possibilities will crash and burn after tonight, but hoops fans can dream until then.

It remains unclear what we can ultimately expect from the Hornets. They should be good, but injuries and absences are leaving a bit of doubt. Until we see them play, we won’t know.

So what’s the news? Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will not play tonight. He remains away due to a undisclosed personal matter, which grows more worrisome by the day. In his absence, Steve Clifford can go a couple of directions with his replacement. As of yesterday, he hasn’t made up his mind:

Bacon started two preseason games, but in place of Jeremy Lamb. Since Lamb is back, Clifford could opt for Marvin Williams at small forward and Frank Kaminsky at power forward. That combo was a hit and miss in preseason, but both played well in the preseason finale against Dallas. But it appears, based on what’s been said, that the starters tonight will either be: Walker, Lamb, Marv, Frank, and Dwight; or Walker, Bacon, Lamb, Marv, and Dwight.

Other injury news. Michael Carter-Williams won’t play, as expected. He sat out of a scrimmage on Monday with knee soreness. Julyan Stone should be good to go, but he missed a few games in preseason with a minor ankle injury. What this essentially means is more Malik Monk at point guard.

The Pistons are relatively injury free. The latest report has Langston Galloway listed as day-to-day. Previously, Stanely Johnson and Avery Bradley were dealing with minor injuries, but it appears they will be available.

Detroit is an interesting team, in the sense that its hard to gauge whether they will be good or not. Reggie Jackson isn’t the hot commodity he was when the Pistons traded for him two seasons ago, and will likely split a lot of minutes with Ish Smith. They acquired Bradley through trade, and he should an upgrade over Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who signed with the Lakers. The other projected starters include Johnson, Tobias Harris, and Andre Drummond, but Stan Van Gundy is remaining coy on who will actually start.

Their starting five is solid, and a weakened East offers an opportunity to make the playoffs. That said, it feels as if the Pistons were good enough last season to make it, and maybe even the season before, and yet they find themselves hovering around 37 wins each season. Maybe Bradley makes a difference.

Regardless, tonight should be a close game. The Hornets aren’t at full strength, and are still figuring the rotation out. A shortened preseason could mean an ugly game as well, so mentally prepare yourself for missed shots just in case. Ugly game or not though, its good to have the Hornets back.

And because its good to have all the Hornets coverage possible to preview tonight’s game, listen to this morning’s Locked On Hornets podcast, featuring ATH’s own Steve Bob Forrest, along with Doug and David. They talk with Hornets play by play man Eric Collins, and preview tonight’s game.