Well, step one is now complete. The Heat went into Detroit and beat the Pistons 99-93 to even the season series between the two teams. The Heat owe this to the fairly new member of the team, Joe Johnson. Cool Joe showed signs of his younger self with 15 fourth quarter points on his way to a game-high 25. All four other starters scored in double figures. Wade had 14, Dragic had 16, Deng had 17, and Whiteside chipped in with 14 as well.
In a game where Miami could have played better in some areas, they were able to get stops late and get points when they need it. This resembled the fourth quarter of a playoff game, and the Heat did a good job of getting to a guys who could score one-one against pretty much anybody. Now let’s see how they did in the 3 key.
- Shut down pick & roll: It was announced a few hours before game time that Reggie Jackson would not play due to an abdominal strain. Steve Blake started for him and played very well. The Pistons were able to get into the paint early and draw a lot of fouls thanks to their pick & roll with Drummond.
- Offensive rebounds: Detroit had 18 compared to Miami’s 8. Drummond had 9 all by himself. Not a good effort from Miami on that end. I will say he did get away with a few shoves on Whiteside, but they needed to get a body on him sooner. Their attention then turned to him and they forgot about the others. Need to improve in that area.
- Take the fight to them: Again, not a great game in that regard as they had only 36 points in the paint. Detroit is a fairly large team, so I understand that, but Miami is at their best when they are consistently getting into the lane. Must improve for the playoffs.
Miami will need to put in a better effort tonight in order to beat Boston, who is one of the best defensive teams in the NBA.