Hello All, Friday night, the Heat (23-22) will be in Detroit to take on the Pistons (15-29), a team that has struggled horribly all season. Except for the fact that this game is being played in Detroit (a city which I unfortunately have spent way too much time in) it should be the perfect opportunity for the Heat to bounce back off of back to back losses. The Heat are 13-12 on the road while the Pistons are 11-12 at home. NOTE: The Pistons have Ben Gordon, Will Bynum and Rodney Atkins (two point guards and a combo guard) listed as day-to-day. Big day for Rafer Alston? Would it surprise me? No, but then again, nothing would with this crew. PROJECTED STARTERS Heat Pistons PG Alston R. Stuckey SG Wade R. Hamilton SF Richardson J. Jerebko PF Beasley (?) C. Wilcox C O’Neal B. Wallace The Pistons are a mess. Ben Wallace, who almost retired in the offseason, is their best player. Their two biggest free agent signings, Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, are both coming off the bench, and Gordon has been hurt for almost half the season. Tayshaun Prince looks miserable and has been benched for a rookie (Jerebko) and is also losing minutes to another rookie (Austin Daye). Chris Wilcox, is, well, Chris Wilcox. Rip can still score, but he was always Detroit’s worst defender and age hasn’t helped him, particularly when it comes to guys like Dwyane Wade. And Stuckey looks like a shooting guard trapped at point guard. That being said, Beasley’s knee is a huge question mark and could take away a matchup that the Heat could exploit (Wilcox and Villanueva trying to guard Beasley in the high post could’ve lead to a thirty point night). Jerebko could have a big night if he sees a lot of Richardson guarding him. STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN Effective Field Goal % The Heat is 17th in the league at 49.4%; the Pistons are 29th at 45.9%. EDGE: Heat (Big) Turnover % The Heat is 2nd in the league at 12.6%; the Pistons are 13th at 14.3%. EDGE: Heat Offensive Rebound % The Heat is 18th in the league at 25.7%; the Pistons are 2nd at 31.5%. EDGE: Pistons (Big) Free Throw Rate The Heat is 15th in the league at 30.7%; the Pistons are 12th at 31.2%. EDGE: Even KEY TO THE GAME The Heat is more efficient shooting the ball and protects it better. The key to this game is the size of the Pistons, especially if Beasley doesn’t play. The Pistons have Wallace and Wilcox on the boards to start with and can bring Prince, Daye, Jason Maxiell, and Villanueva off the bench. All are tall and can exploit their counterpart on the Heat. Jermaine O’Neal will have to have a big night limiting Detroit’s second chances, and more minutes for Joel Anthony would be nice too. If the Heat get pounded on the boards as they did against Chris Bosh and the Raptors, this could be an unsightly loss. If not, this should be a runaway win. Always guard the inbound passer.