One year ago from yesterday, the Miami Heat dropped a seemingly inconsequential game to the Indiana Pacers to send their record to 29-14.
54 days later, the Heat lost again, this time at the hands of the Chicago Bulls. Minor detail? The Heat didn't lose a game in those 54 days. They rattled off 27 straight wins, good for the second longest winning streak in NBA history.
Why is that important now?
Miami's last win streak started against the Toronto Raptors on Super Bowl Sunday, following a loss to one of their top competitors for the NBA Finals. This year, the Heat dropped a game to the Oklahoma City Thunder, and then picked up a win in their next game the day before Super Bowl Sunday.
I'm not saying there are some parallels, but actually that's exactly what I'm saying. Following a 15 point win at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, the Miami Heat (33-13) return home to face the Detroit Pistons (19-27). The Pistons enter Monday's matchup winners of two straight, while the Heat, as previously mentioned, won their last game against the Knicks.
Thus far, the Heat have split the season series with the Pistons 1-1, with each team taking the game in the opponent's building. In the Pistons victory at the AAA, Andre Drummond had 10 points and an astonishing 18 rebounds, while Greg Monroe had 16 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists on 80% shooting. To round out their trio of big men, Josh Smith went 7-21 from the field and shot four threes. And missed them all. I think Miami is okay with that performance from Smith.
Meanwhile, in the Heat victory in Detroit, Miami was without Dwyane Wade, who was getting the second night of a road back to back off after playing in Minnesota the night before. LeBron did typical LeBron things, going off for 24, 7 and 9 on 67% shooting, although he did turn the ball over 6 times. The Heat overcame 17 turnovers as a team in that one by shooting 55% from the floor and making 91% of their free throws to win by 15. For Detroit, Drummond went off, again, to the tune of 19 and 14.
The Pistons are an interesting matchup for the Heat. They possess one of the biggest frontlines in the league, which is one of Miami's primary weaknesses. Their other main weakness (defending the 3 point line) is actually one of Detroit's weaknesses as well, as they rank dead last in the league at just 30.7% as a team. I imagine the plan for the Heat is to sag off and let the Pistons (particularly Josh Smith) shoot 3s, and try to keep the Pistons off the offensive glass. That's easier said than done, but that will be the plan.
Greg Oden has been riding the pine the last two games, but I'm expecting that to change against Detroit. This will be one of Oden's biggest tests yet, going against a team with one of the few players in the league who can legitimately match his size in Drummond. How Oden deals with that challenge will tell us a lot about where he's at physically.
The game will tip off at 7:30 PM eastern Monday night, and can be seen on Sun Sports.