Game Preview: Detroit vs. Miami

Date: Feb. 4, 2009

Time: 7:30 p.m.

Detroit record: 25-21

Miami record: 26-21

Detroit probable starters:

PG SG SF PF C

Rodney
Stuckey
Allen
Iverson
Tayshaun
Prince
Amir
Johnson
Rasheed
Wallace

Miami probable starters:

PG SG SF PF C

Mario
Chalmers
Dwyane
Wade
Shawn
Marion
Udonis
Haslem
Jamaal
Magloire

Spread: Detroit -4

Outlook: There are no must-wins before the All-Star break, but tonight’s contest has some pretty big ramifications.

Winning cures almost every problem, and the Pistons sure have their problems, according to Chris McCosky of the Detroit News.

What I am seeing is a divided locker room.

In one camp are the veterans — Prince, Rasheed Wallace, Richard Hamilton and Antonio McDyess — the guys who have been here for the better part of the six-year run of success.

In another camp are the younger players — Jason Maxiell, Amir Johnson, Rodney Stuckey and Arron Afflalo. They came aboard late in this run and are kind of stuck on an island between the veterans and a third faction.

Allen Iverson — the new guy.

These troubles are certainly understanding, considering the Pistons aren’t used to struggling. And the fact that their last two losses came against the teams that knocked them out of the Eastern Conference Finals in the last two seasons just compounds the disappointment.

That’s why tonight’s game is so pivotal. The Heat, who beat Detroit in the conference finals three years ago, are also a reminder of Detroit’s recent shortcomings.

Of course, the Pistons could always turn around later in the season. But the longer it takes, the more likely serious chemistry problems develop.

The Pistons main focus will be slowing Dwyane Wade, who leads the NBA with 28.5 points per game. The Heat are just 7-11 when Wade scores fewer than 27 points.

But leading a group of underperformers and young players, Wade can do more than just score. He averages 7.1 assists, five rebounds, 2.1 steals and 1.5 blocks per game.

Rodney Stuckey will have the first chance of guarding Wade, according to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.

Expect Tayshaun Prince, Richard Hamilton and Arron Afflalo to guard Wade, too.