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Heat return home to face Pistons

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Hassan Whiteside has been upgraded to questionable for tonight's game.

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Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

After a road trip that failed to buoy Miami beyond its tenuous position as the seventh seed in the watered-down East -- highlighted by a meltdown against the sixth-seeded Milwaukee Bucks -- the Heat will return home to face the Detroit Pistons at 6 p.m. tonight.

Miami has some good news tonight; Hassan Whiteside is questionable to play in tonight's game after suffering a right-hand laceration.

Since Miami has played Michael Beasley at the center in Whiteside's absence, the 7-footer's return -- either tonight or in a few days -- will serve as a welcome sign. Without Whiteside, Miami has had no semblance of interior defense and allowed opposing players to get easy shots. Additionally, Whiteside's own offensive repertoire will improve the Heat's offense. Hopefully, Miami doesn't have any more nine-point fourth quarters the rest of the way.

Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe give the Pistons a lot of size and length and will make the undersized Heat struggle to defend in the paint and grab rebounds. Newly acquired Reggie Jackson has been improving lately and has been averaging 21.2 points and 11.8 assists over the past six games. Jackson's speed and length (he has a 7 foot wingspan as a PG) will give Goran Dragic some trouble. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is developing nicely and can score outside the perimeter - another area the Heat struggle to defend. It wouldn't be a surprise if Drummond grabs 20+ rebounds and catches multiple alley-oops tonight.

The Heat have no excuse to lose this game, with or without Whiteside. Miami is playing at home -- a place the Heat have played better in recently -- against a 28-44 team that has no playoff aspirations. The Heat stand just a game above the Boston Celtics at the seventh seed and still could conceivably fall out of the playoff picture. These are the types of games Heat players will be kicking themselves for losing if they find themselves watching the first round at home.

The Pistons are good at the 3 things Miami is bad at defending: playing big in the paint, perimeter shooting and transition scoring. Fortunately the Pistons are still in the process of meshing with each other. Despite Jackson's double-double average over the past 6 games, he can make some unwise choices and take 20+ field goal attempts or make bad passes. The Heat need to stop the ball at Jackson and not allow him to pass to Monroe and especially not to the lob-catching Drummond.

Heat Starting Lineup:
F - Luol Deng
F - Henry Walker
C - Udonis Haslem
G - Mario Chalmers/Dwyane Wade
G - Goran Dragic

Pistons Starting Lineup:
F - Caron Butler
F - Greg Monroe/Anthony Tolliver
C - Andre Drummond
G - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
G - Reggie Jackson

Game Time: 6:00 PM ET
Broadcast: Sun Sports, FS Detroit, 105.1 FM, 104.3 The Ticket / S

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