Heat Host Pistons Before Starting Long Road Trip


Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe history will repeat itself, and this year’s Super Bowl will again lead the Miami Heat to winning ways.

Last season, Miami used a victory against the Toronto Raptors on Super Bowl Sunday, as well as an impassioned speech by Shane Battier, to propel them to a 27-game win streak. Miami (33-13) beat the New York Knicks on Saturday and look to continue that streak against the Detroit Pistons (19-27) in Miami.

The season series between Miami and Detroit stands at one game apiece, with the Heat winning a 110-95 contest back on December 8. Dwyane Wade has missed both games, so Miami relied heavily on Ray Allen and Roger Mason, Jr. outside the arc, thereby negating Detroit’s huge frontcourt. Wade is likely to play on Monday, so this will be an interesting subplot to watch during the game.

Detroit was optimistic this season, pinning their hopes on free agent acquisitions Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings. But Smith’s historically-bad shooting and Jennings’ ability to shoot a team in or out of a game have been disappointing thus far. But the Pistons have players that can exploit Miami’s greatest weakness – rebounding. Andre Drummond (nearly 13 rebounds and 2 blocks per game) and Greg Monroe (9 RPG) will clog the lane, limiting Miami’s ability to drive to the hoop. The Heat’s best chance at winning this game will be to establish their outside shooting early, and forcing turnovers that can lead to fast-break opportunities.

The telecast of this game begins at 7:30 P.M. on Sun Sports from the American Airlines Arena. Check back with AllUCanHeat for a recap after the game.

The Big Three Questions for the Game:

Who is an X-Factor for Miami?

Not a “who” but a “what.” In this case, the upcoming six-game road trip looms large for Miami. While players and coaches will undoubtedly espouse that each game should be taken seriously, that stretch of games away from Miami is a serious mental obstacle for the champs. The trip includes a nationally-televised matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, followed by games against Utah, Phoenix, Golden  State, Dallas and finally at Oklahoma City. Brutal. While a true championship contender like Miami should rise up to the test, the underwhelming challenge posed by Detroit is an important step toward a successful February.

Does Saturday’s Game Mean D-Wade is Back?

Was he really ever gone? Despite missing a number of games, Wade had already been playing at an efficient – if not elite – level. Dwyane’s superb 22-point game (on 10-of-15 shooting) against the Knicks was more of a product of who was defending him. He did look energetic and aggressive offensively, however. If Miami’s training staff is correct, Wade will continue to strengthen during this phase of the season long “maintenance program.” On the upcoming road trip, Miami will need to be at full strength to match up against some of the strongest teams in the Western Conference.

Will Greg Oden Play Against Detroit?

Hard to say. Heat Head Coach Erik Spoelstra tightened his rotation against New York, at least until the waning moments of the game. While that might be in preparation for a playoff push, I would expect Spoelstra to go a little deeper, particularly with the grueling trip on the horizon. Detroit’s huge frontcourt could necessitate some playing time for Oden.