The Miami Heat’s offseason and how the Pistons match up

AUBURN HILLS, MI - MARCH 28: Hassan Whiteside
AUBURN HILLS, MI - MARCH 28: Hassan Whiteside /

The 2016-17 season was a tale of two halves for the Miami Heat, something which was made especially clear in their season series with the Detroit Pistons.

The Detroit Pistons took both games in the first half of the season quite comfortably, defeating the Miami Heat 107-84 on November 23, and 107-98 on January 1.

However, in the second half of the season, everything clicked for the Heat and they got on a major roll thanks to Dion Waiters finally playing like the player he always said he was, leading the team to a 13-game winning streak.

The Pistons 103-116 loss to the Heat on January 28 was part of this winning streak, while on March 28 in one of the final games of the season they snuck away with a 96-97 win thanks to a buzzer-beating tip-in by Hassan Whiteside.

Unfortunately for the Heat, they fell just short of charging into the playoffs as they finished with a 41-41 record, the same as the Chicago Bulls, but missed out thanks to a tie-breaker.

However, the second-half resurgence gave the franchise confidence going into the offseason.

The Heat’s offseason began on a sour note though, with the franchise finally parting ways with Chris Bosh.

Related Story: What was the Pistons' best move this offseason?

Bosh didn’t play a single game last season thanks to a heart condition, which has effectively ended his career.

The first signing they made came two days later in the form of former-Boston Celtic, Kelly Olynyk.

Olynyk’s deal, worth $50 million over four years was met with disdain from most fans, with many thinking it was a poor use of their cap space.

A far more universally loved decision was re-signing Dion Waiters.

Waiters had a career year with the Heat and registered career-highs in almost every statistic.

He was instrumental in almost dragging the team to the playoffs and was rewarded with a four-year, $52 million dollar contract.

They also re-signed James Johnson for $60 million over four years, brought back fan-favourite Udonis Haslem and shipped Josh McRoberts off to Dallas, receiving A.J. Hammons and a 2023 second-round draft pick in return.

Finally, on August 20 they signed Jordan Mickey to a two-year deal.

While the Heat were lambasted for the Olynyk deal, they have quietly assembled a nice roster that will be competitive in the Eastern Conference.

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Their projected starting lineup of Goran Dragic, Waiters, Justise Winslow, Johnson and Hassan Whiteside is better on paper than a lot of teams and is impressive considering many had pegged them to spiral into a long rebuild after Dwyane Wade‘s departure.

Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson and Olynyk help make a handy bench unit and it will be interesting to see how Bam Adebayo develops over the course of the season as a backup to Whiteside.

How they match up with this season’s Pistons is what’s most important though.

Avery Bradley will be incredibly handy in shutting down the enigmatic Waiters, while Reggie Jackson, who isn’t the greatest of defenders, is competent enough to ensure Dragic doesn’t get too out of hand.

While we don’t know exactly the makeup of Detroit’s starting five yet, a small forward battle between Winslow and either Tobias Harris or Stanley Johnson is intriguing.

Harris has a significant height advantage over Winslow which would prove beneficial on both ends of the floor.

On the other hand, Johnson is a remarkably similar player to Winslow and it’s always interesting to see them matched up on one another due to the controversy of Johnson being taken with the 8th pick of the 2015 draft instead of Winslow.

James Johnson probably has the edge in the power forward battle with Jon Leuer thanks to his strength and ability to score inside.

Hands down the most entertaining battle for the Pistons and the Heat is the one at centre.

Andre Drummond and Whiteside are both classic big man who do their scoring close to the basket and love pulling in rebounds.

Much like Johnson and Winslow, Drummond and Whiteside are very similar players.

Whiteside had the better year last season, but Drummond seems rejuvenated this offseason and ready to battle opposing team’s monstrous centres.

The Pistons and the Heat play four times in the 2017-18 season and I wouldn’t be surprised if they split the season-series fifty-fifty just like last season.

Next: What are you looking for from the Pistons this preseason?

However, at the moment I’m leaning towards giving it to the Heat thanks to the way they clicked at the end of the season and expect them to carry that to start much better than they did a year ago.