Defending champs in Motown

Essentials

  • Teams: Miami Heat (20-6) at Detroit Pistons (9-22)
  • Date: December 28, 2012
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: FSD

What to look for

The Miami Heat are the proud owners of a six-game winning streak that is highlighted by a victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in a Christmas day rematch of the NBA Finals.

During their recent stretch of wins, the Heat have rediscovered their defensive identity and haven’t allowed any opponent to score more than 97 points.

The defense has played better as of late because Erik Spoelstra has reinserted Udonis Haslem into the starting lineup, which has led to sharper defensive rotations as well as more size and resistance on the interior. In addition, Joel Anthony has been getting more minutes of late, which has also provided the team with a boost given his solid post defense, shot blocking and terrific pick-and-roll defense.

With that said, everything tonight will start and end with LeBron James, especially with Dwyane Wade set to serve his suspension tonight for hitting Ramon Sessions in the groin area in a victory over Charlotte on Wednesday night.

The reigning league MVP will see the ball early and often and will dictate everything that Miami does on offense. Whether it’s running pick-and-rolls or pick-and-pops with his big men, posting up near the basket or driving down the lane and finding his open shooters, much of the offense responsibilities will fall on his shoulders.

With Wade absent, expect Chris Bosh to get a fair amount of touches both in the high post and low post as well as the pick-and-roll game with James. In addition, Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole will probably be more aggressive than usual as they try to make up for Wade’s scoring and playmaking between them.

As it pertains to defeating Miami, the Pistons will have to simply make shots.

The Heat allow the second most amount of 3-pointers attempted per game in the league, and a large variety of those come from the corners because the Miami coaching staff asks the perimeter players to rotate to the paint to defend ball handlers and big men rolling to the basket in the pick-and-roll. Thus, it’s important for Detroit players to take advantage of the Heat’s scheme if they hope to loosen up the defense and get better driving lanes.

Also, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond will have to play big in this one given Miami’s decencies on the rebounding front. Manufacturing more shot attempts all the while keeping the ball away from a high-powered Miami offense is a great recipe to beat the defending champs.

Because remember, when all else fails for the Heat, they still have LeBron.

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