House of the champs: on the road in Miami

Essentials

  • Teams: Detroit Pistons (16-26) at Miami Heat (27-12)
  • Date: January 25, 2013
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: FSD

What to look for

After losing a tough contest in Chicago Wednesday night, the Detroit Pistons will be in Miami tonight to take on a Heat team that they convincingly defeated at the Palace of Auburn Hills on December 28th.

In that contest, the Pistons scored 109 points on 58.1 percent field goal shooting thanks to their performance on both the interior and perimeter. Indeed, Detroit managed 48 points in the paint and also converted an astonishing 12-of-19 shots from 3-point range, with Charlie Villanueva and Austin Daye combining to go six-of-seven from downtown.

The Heat were in somewhat of a funk at the time and played without the services of Dwyane Wade.

This time around, Miami is playing a little better basketball, as evidenced by their back-to-back wins in Golden State and Los Angeles (Lakers) where they held their opponents to 75 and 90 points respectively.

But again, they are still prone to some lackadaisical efforts, which occurred on Wednesday night at home, when they needed overtime to dispatch the Toronto Raptors.

Nonetheless, with Dwyane Wade returning to the lineup tonight, expect this contest to be played differently in comparison to the last time both teams squared off.

LeBron James and Chris Bosh dropped 63 points on 26-for-39 field goal shooting in the first tilt, but received little help from their supporting cast.

Wade’s presence will undoubtedly reduce the scoring burden for both James and Bosh given his ability to put up points on the board, which allows the team to better balance out the point production. NBA.com’s advanced stats tool tells us that LeBron James produces 23 points and seven assists per 36 minutes on 55.8 percent shooting with Wade playing alongside him, whereas when the Marquette product is on the bench, he manufactures 28.5 points and 5.9 assists per 36 minutes on 53.6 percent field goal shooting.

It’s also worth noting that Miami is a better shooting team with the former Finals MVP on the court because they generate more free throw attempts, finish much better around the basket and convert a slightly higher share of their above the break 3-point shots per NBA.com’s advanced stats tool.

Thus, it stands to reason that Detroit won’t be able to replicate the exact same defensive game plan they used in late December against Miami because the variables are much more different now with Wade weaving through defenders off the dribble to get to the rim.

The Heat will find a balance between attacking the paint and setting up their shooters for long-range shooters where they are converting 38.8 percent from downtown (third best mark in NBA).

So how does Detroit win this game?

They have to absolutely win two statistical categories: rebounding and turnovers.

Much has been made of the Heat’s rebounding deficiencies, but the team still has the best record in the Eastern Conference and a huge part of that stems from their at times suffocating defense that forces turnovers and permits them to get out in transition for easy baskets.

The defending champions make up for their lack of size with speed, quickness and an ability to force miscues. Consequently, if Detroit can produce positive results in both areas, they should have a terrific chance of pulling out the contest on the road.

Read about the Heat

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Statistical support provided by NBA.com.

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Tags: Miami Heat THN-MIA

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