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By Joe B.
Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus
The Miami HEAT defeated the Detroit Pistons 97-96 Tuesday night at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Goran Dragić led the way for the HEAT with 28 points. Hassan Whiteside added 17 points for Miami, including the game winner. Click here for the full recap on HEAT.com.
By Joe B.
Photo Credit: Brian Sevald
The Miami HEAT face the Detroit Pistons Tuesday night at The Palace of Auburn Hills. The HEAT defeated the Pistons 116-103 in their last meeting on January 28. Tip-off is set for 7:30 PM. Television coverage on FOX Sports Sun begins at 7:00 PM. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket.
1: What does Miami need to clean up from its loss to Boston?
Couper Moorhead: While many were likely frustrated by Miami’s offense due to some end-game possessions that were less than ideal, overall the HEAT still managed to score 106.3 points per 100 possessions – in large part thanks to Tyler Johnson and James Johnson relentlessly attacking the rim. That might not be best-in-the-league quality, but it’s more than enough to get a road win if the defense is up to the usual standards. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Isaiah Thomas was his usual brilliant self in the pick-and-roll, making the decision to have a big man either play up or back in pick-and-rolls a no-win situation, but just about every Celtic made an offensive impact in some form or fashion whether it was Jae Crowder hitting threes, Amir Johnson finishing around the rim or Kelly Olynyk and Jaylen Brown making timely drives to the rim. As we’ve said often, Miami has a great ability to self-correct in a short amount of time, but if Detroit’s spread pick-and-roll is operating to its full extent then time won’t be in extended supply.
Joe Beguiristain: Miami’s defense wasn’t quite up to par against Boston on Sunday night. While Josh Richardson did a good job of defending Isaiah Thomas in the first half, the Celtics guard scored 20 points after halftime. As Coup stated above, Thomas did a lot of damage in the pick-and-roll and came through with some tough finishes at the rim. That said, Richardson certainly competed hard and laid it all on the line against one of the toughest covers in the league. It wasn’t just Thomas that gave the HEAT headaches however, as the rest of his teammates combined to shoot 52.5 percent on the night.
Despite its defensive struggles, Miami still had a chance to win the game in the end. The Brothers Johnson combined for 24 points in the fourth quarter, while Hassan Whiteside continued to battle through a right hand laceration and drilled two clutch free throws to make it a one-possession game with 11.5 seconds remaining. That kind of grit and resolve has become a hallmark of the HEAT this season. Regardless of the circumstances, you know they will fight from beginning to end and never give up.
2: What have we learned about the season series with Detroit so far?
Couper: That the Pistons, as inconsistent as they can be, have the capability to be one heck of an offensive team. Even in Detroit’s loss to Miami during the winning streak the Pistons managed 113.1 points per 100 with everyone in the starting lineup outside of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope shooting over 50 percent and Tobias Harris contributing 7-of-11. Of course Detroit is also currently in a strange point of the season where they’ve lost seven of eight and have seen Ish Smith starting over Reggie Jackson for the last three, so there’s no telling what version of them shows up on Tuesday, but talent has never been an issue as all three games of this season series have shown.
Joe: We’ve learned that the Pistons are indeed a formidable opponent, as they lead the season series with Miami 2-1. Not to mention, Detroit has scored 110.1 points per 100 possessions against the HEAT this season.
Still, Miami got the best of the Pistons in the last meeting between the two on January 28. In what was a closely-contested high-scoring affair, Wayne Ellington proved to be the difference in the fourth quarter with nine points on 3-of-4 shooting from beyond the arc.
In terms of Tuesday night, the HEAT have to be wary of Detroit's pick-and-roll game with Andre Drummond and Ish Smith. Despite Drummond’s recent struggles on the offensive end, the big fella is still a threat when rolling to the rim or crashing the offensive glass for second-chance opportunities.
3: What does this game mean in the playoff picture?
Couper: Only that this is probably the biggest game of the season. The HEAT currently sit at No. 8 only two games behind what is a three-way tie for No. 5, but they’re also only a half game up on Chicago and 1.5 games up on Detroit. This also happens to be the final contest in a four-game series that Detroit leads 2-1, so if Miami wins, the tiebreaker for playoff seeding goes to conference record (where Miami is ahead by three in the loss column). If Miami loses, the tiebreaker stays with Detroit. Essentially, a win or a loss doesn’t decide the team’s fate either way, but a win keeps the hounds at bay and creates a little separation while a loss, with the tiebreaker factored in, could almost count as two losses.
Joe: It means a lot. With the Pistons losing on Monday night, Miami is now 1.5 games ahead of Detroit for the eighth seed in the East. Like I stated before, the Pistons are ahead in the season series, so that makes this game even more important. While it’s easy to get caught up in the standings with seven teams jockeying for the final four playoff spots, it all comes down to what you can control. For the HEAT, that means locking in and focusing on each of the last nine games of the season. Of course, that kind of approach has always been synonymous with this franchise. With all these meaningful games down the stretch, we should be in for a wild ride over the last two and a half weeks of the season.
January 28-Pistons at HEAT
January 1-Pistons at HEAT
The HEAT have dropped three of four and are 35-38. The Pistons have dropped seven of eight and are 34-40. Tyler Johnson is averaging 17.8 points and 2.0 steals per game on 53.0 percent shooting over his last five. Tobias Harris leads Detroit in scoring at 16.2 points per contest.
HEAT Offense: 104.9 (18) HEAT Defense: 104.1 (5) Pistons Offense: 103.2 (25) Pistons Defense: 105.5 (12)
By Joe B.
Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon
At 1:00 PM ET, I will ask a trivia question in this thread to give away one Willie Reed signed photo. A multi-part question will be asked and the first eligible person who responds correctly will be declared the winner. Please note that you must live in the U.S. since your prize will be mailed to you.
READ the full rules to make sure you’re eligible: http://www.nba.com/heat/miami-heat-inferno-trivia-contest-official-rules-march-28-2017-willie-reed-signed-photo