Sure, its been almost 3 years since we last played Detroit in the playoffs...but I still get amped up when I see those blue and red jerseys, the clear hockey mask on Rip Hamilton's face and the patch of missing hair on Rasheed Wallace's head. I love to hate the Pistons...it's the closest thing we have to the amazing Heat-Knicks rivalry of the late 90's.
A big key to the Heat getting a win will be on the glass. In their last 2 losses the Heat were out-rebounded by 50. FIFTY. Detroit isn't the great rebounding team they were in years past, but they still have guys like Jason Maxiell, a rebound machine who will kill you on the offensive glass.
WHO TO WATCH
We know the Pistons. We know that we have to watch out for Sheed getting hot from 3. We have to watch out for Tayshawn off the dribble. How about we need to watch ourselves? Guys like Cook and Beasley need to get their crap together and play the consistent game they have shown for most of the season. Past D-Wade we don't have a whole lot, and the Heat cant afford to have guys taking nights off. For this team to win, everybody needs to perform.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
The Pistons have lost 16 of 22 en route to a .500 record, but it wasn't that long ago (Jan 4th) when they were 10 games over with a 21-11 mark.
Coach Michael Curry is looking for fighters on his team. He has not been happy with the effort of his team during their 6 game slide, and has even acknowledged that his players' confidence is down.
"I'm sure anytime you lose, it affects it (confidence)," Curry said. "But what are you going to do to correct it? I'm more into that. If your confidence is down, get your shot down, get more shots, work a little harder, play a little harder, get some easy ones in the game. Be there for defensive stops, help your teammate, help yourself. Guys have to hold each other accountable out there."
Daequan Cook went 7 straight quarters without taking a shot before missing an 18-footer three minutes into the 4th quarter on Sunday in Orlando. If he doesn't have a shot after 5 minutes on the floor...we have a problem.
Which Jermaine O'Neal will we see tonight? The guy from games 1 and 3 of his Heat career that combined for 3 rebounds in 52 minutes? Or the guy from the Sixers game that dominated the glass in the 1st half and was a presence in the paint on both ends of the court.
It will also be interesting to see how D-Wade handles himself on offense in the early stages of the game. After his 50-point effort against Orlando, I don't know if he will come out firing or be a little more tentative and try to get his teammates involved more. Hopefully it isn't one of those situations where nobody is on the same page and we turn the ball over 6 times in the 1st quarter.
IN THE STANDINGS
The Pistons aren't the only team on a losing streak. Philly lost their 4th straight last night at New Jersey, who moved to within 2 games of 8th place Milwaukee. The Hawks lost their 2nd in a row, but I can't blame them. Winning at Utah is no easy thing; the Jazz are 25-6 at home...but wait, didn't Miami win in Utah earlier this year?