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HHH GameTime Preview: Heat Visit Detroit

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The Heat take on the Pistons tonight in Detroit.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight at 7:30 PM EST, the Miami Heat will square off against the Pistons in the Palace at Auburn Hills, Michigan. This will be the fourth and final matchup this season between the two. Detroit won the first two contests, 107-84 on November 23rd in Detroit and 107-98 on New Years’ Day in Miami, and the Heat won the third game, 116-103 on January 28th, for their then-seventh win in a row.

In that game, the Heat were paced by 23 points from Goran Dragic, who was backed up by 17 points and seven helpers from Dion Waiters. Wayne Ellington had 19 off the bench on seven-of-10 shooting, and James Johnson pitched in 18 with eight rebounds and five helpers.

Our toughest, most physical, most committed minutes were there at the end. - Heat coach Erik Spoelstra

Miami is currently playing in the second game of a three-game road trip. They dropped their first decision, a 112-108 loss to the Boston Celtics on Sunday evening and will finish up tomorrow night in the first game of a home-and-home series versus the New York Knicks.

The Heat kept it close on the road against Boston this past Sunday, dropping by a 112-108 final score. Isaiah Thomas scored 30, Jae Crowder had 25 with six boards, and Amir Johnson scored 14 with seven and five assists. Tyler Johnson led the Heat with 24 points off the bench on nine-for-15 shooting, backed by James Johnson’s 20 points, six assists, and five rebounds. Hassan Whiteside notched his customary double-double with 19 points and 15 rebounds.

I don't think it was the offense that really got us, that (is) inhibiting us from winning games. I think it's getting stops down the stretch. We scored 108 points, so that's enough to get the job done. - Tyler Johnson

Detroit just completed a four-game road trip with four losses, all but ending their slim postseason hopes. It ended with a 109-95 loss to the New York Knicks last night. Today’s game is the first of a two-game homestand, concluding with a Thursday tipoff against the Brooklyn Nets.

Against the Knicks, Marcus Morris led the Pistons with 20 points, and Andre Drummond scored 10 with 15 rebounds. The Knicks had three starters with 21 or more points, including Derrick Rose’s 27 points on 12-for-17 shooting, with six assists, Kristaps Porzingis’ 25 points on 10-for-16 shooting wtih eight boards, and Carmelo Anthony’s 21 points with five helpers and three rebounds.

These past four, five games have definitely been tough. We really haven't shown a lot of fight down the stretch of games. - Drummond

GameTime: 7:30 PM EST, The Palace at Auburn Hills, Michigan

numberFire.com says: Miami holds a 58.1% chance of victory in tonight’s game, with a projected Five Stars of Andre Drummond, Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic, James Johnson, and Tyler Johnson.

All-Time Head-to-Heat: Miami is 54-50 against the Pistons all-time for a .519 winning percentage. That’s their 14th best record against an NBA opponent.

Standings

Miami: 35-38, .479, on pace for 39-43 record. Third in the Southeast Division, 10 games behind the division leading Washington Wizards. Eighth in the Eastern Conference, 12.5 games behind the conference leading Boston Celtics. Tied with the Portland Trail Blazers and the Denver Nuggets for 15th in the NBA. 50.2% chance of qualifying for the postseason. Last Five: W-L-W-L-L

Detroit: 34-40, .459, on pace for 38-44 record. Fifth in the Central Division, 13.5 games behind the division leading Cleveland Cavaliers. 10th in the Eastern Conference, 14 games behind the Celtics. 19th in the NBA. 20.4% chance of making the playoffs. Last Five: W-L-L-L-L

Probable Starters (by Rotowire.com)

Miami:
PG - Goran Dragic
SG - Rodney McGruder
SF - Josh Richardson
PF - Luke Babbitt
C - Hassan Whiteside

Detroit:
PG - Ish Smith
SG - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF - Marcus Morris
PF - Tobias Harris
C - Andre Drummond