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Pistons vs. Heat preview: Detroit faces another stingy defense in Miami

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The Pistons have been facing a lot of top defenses of late. That continues Tuesday evening as the Pistons take on the Heat in Miami.

Leon Halip-USA TODAY Sports

How about that game four days ago! The Pistons are coming off their longest break of the season after winning an instant classic in Chicago, 147-144. The Bulls are the second best team in Defensive Rating. The Miami Heat are also a great defensive team, currently fifth in the league. How will the Pistons fare?

Game vitals

Where: AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL
When: 7:30 p.m. ET
Watch: FS Detroit

Game Analysis

In the last four games, the Pistons have taken on three of the top seven defenses in the league. Against the Indiana Pacers (seventh best defensive rating at tip off), the Pistons scored 118 points, 19 more than Indiana had been allowing per game up to that point. Four days later the Pistons took on the Boston Celtics who had the fourth best defensive rating in the league at that time. The Pistons would go on to score 119 points on them, nearly 21 more points than Boston had been allowing per game.

Then you have the awesome game against the Chicago Bulls where the Pistons prevailed after four overtime periods to beat the Bulls 147-144. However, since it took four overtimes to get to 147, that is not a good indicator of what the Pistons did against the second best defensive rating in the league. The Pistons scored 105 points in regulation, which is just over eight points more than what Chicago had been allowing. This was in Chicago where the games against Boston and Indiana happened in Detroit.

The Pistons do not care for your defense.

Well, let's hope that continues to ring true as the Pistons take on the fifth best defensive rated team in the league on Tuesday night, the Miami Heat. The Heat are holding teams to the second lowest points per game in the league, 93.8. However, that number is a little misleading.

One of the likely reasons the Heat are allowing so few points per game is that they've played 17 of their 26 games at home. They have also only played three back-to-back sets this season, four fewer than the Pistons. Fresh legs allows for good defense.

The Pistons offense has been clicking as of late. Over the last 10 games the Pistons are tied for fourth at 107 points per contest. Encouragingly -- as much as you can say that with a straight face -- over the last five games the Pistons' bench has only been second worst in the NBA. That bench, though, may end up getting a boost in the form of Brandon Jennings.

Jennings completed a one-game stint with the Grand Rapids Drive on Saturday and played decent. We can be nit picky if we want -- he shot less than .500, he only split his two free throw attempts, he had five turnovers -- or we can look at the positive. Jennings scored 11 points including two of those being triples (on five tries) and dished out 12 assists. One of those assists was a fancy off the backboard alley-oop. These are with players he only had one practice with. And some of the alley-oops are encouraging when thinking about him playing with Andre Drummond.

However, Steve Blake may still be the leader of the second unit for now:

"I don’t think at this point I would play him ahead of Steve (Blake)," Van Gundy said.

The Heat enter the game having won six of their last 10 games. When looking at those wins and losses, it is a mix bag of nuts. Wins against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Oklahoma City Thunder at home and Atlanta Hawks on the road. Losses to the Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards at home and the Indiana Pacers and Charlotte Hornets on the road. They've beaten good teams and lost to not so good teams. Sounds like the Pistons.

This game will be a race to 100. On the season, the Heat are 8-1 when they score 100 points. When their opponent scores 100 points, they are 2-6. The Pistons are 13-1 when they score 100 or more points. Let's hope the Pistons offense is on point Tuesday night.

Players to Watch

Pistons: Andre Drummond

Drummond's rebounding numbers have slipped some, down to 16.4 on the season. He goes against another formidable rebounder in Whiteside. While he did pull down 21 rebounds against the Bulls, that was in 55 minutes.

Heat: Hassan Whiteside

Whiteside is the league leader in blocks at four per game. He's also sixth in rebounds at 10.7 per game. Whiteside is also one of the worst free throw shooters at 51.0-percent. How will he fare against Andre?

Last Time We Met

Wednesday, Nov. 25 at the Palace - Pistons 104, Heat 81

Drummond was two points away from another 20/20 game, finishing with 18 points and 20 rebounds. Reggie Jackson had a good night getting 18 points on 7-for-12 shooting (4-for-5 from distance) to go with four rebounds and seven assists opposite only one turnover. The Heat were led in scoring by Gerald Green. Yes, you read that right. Dwyane Wade would finish 1-for-9 and Chris Bosh only 3-for-9.

Starting Lineups

Pistons: Jackson, Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Ersan Ilyasova, Drummond

Heat: Goran Dragic, Wade, Luol Deng, Bosh, Whiteside

Injuries

Pistons: Meeks (Ankle)

Heat: Josh McRoberts (Knee), Tyler Johnson (Shoulder), Chris Anderson (Illness)

Prediction

Pistons win 102-95

Community Question

How many minutes does Brandon Jennings play?