Before heading out on a four-game road trip that begins with Ray Allen's return to Boston, the Miami Heat will host the Detroit Pistons tonight at 7:30. For Miami, this game represents a chance to build on its current three-game winning streak and exact a measure of revenge for last month's embarrassing loss to Detroit at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
Miami overcame a lackadaisical first half to defeat the Toronto Raptors in overtime Wednesday. Miami dominated Toronto on the glass -- thanks to double-digit rebounds from Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Udonis Haslem. James actually notched a triple-double, and Allen made a dagger 3-pointer to put Miami up six with 59 seconds left. But perhaps only second to the 53-28 rebounding margin, Dwyane Wade's superb play was the most encouraging element of that game. Having played exceptionally well over the last month or so, Wade scored a season-high 35 points on 13-of-19 shooting. Wade consistently made decisive plays during Miami's third-quarter rally and in crunch time.
In Miami's last game against the Pistons, Wade was not available due to a one-game suspension. The Dec. 28 visit to Detroit started a period of malaise for Miami, as the Heat went 4-6 after winning six straight in December. Miami should have beaten the Pistons, a 16-26 team currently, without Wade. But Detroit scored an incredible 41 points in the second quarter Dec. 28, making 12 3s in the entire game (the Raptors made 14 3s Wednesday). Outside of James and Bosh, Miami's leading scorer was Udonis Haslem, who scored seven points.
Time after time, the Heat players have proven that they can go into another gear defensively. The loss to Detroit may add motivation, and Wade's presence will certainly help ease the scoring burden off of James and Bosh. Allen shot 3-for-13 in Miami's first meeting with the Pistons, and he has seemingly always played better at home. Miami's supporting cast is still far from ideal, but the Heat should be fine as long as the Big Three and Allen show up.