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Pistons vs. Heat preview: Limiting Whiteside’s impact is easier said than done

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Detroit needs a win against Miami as Clippers and another mini road trip are on the horizon.

NBA: Miami Heat at Detroit Pistons Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

The Heat were NBA finalists from 2011-2014 and captured two titles behind LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Their current big three of Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside and Justise Winslow don’t seem to be on the same trajectory of success.

Rebuilding, reloading, whatever you want to call it, the Heat are in the middle of that agonizing process - which happens to everyone outside of San Antonio. This makes Miami’s visit to Auburn Hills a game in which the Pistons need to to take advantage.

By “take advantage,” I mean: win.

Game Vitals

When: November 23rd @ 7:30pm EST
Where: Palace of Auburn Hills; Auburn Hills, MI
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit

Analysis

In what could’ve been billed as the Battle of the Sophomores, the Stanley Johnson vs. Justise Winslow matchup sadly lacks any kind of juicy narrative.

Winslow is battling an injured wrist that sidelined him in recent games and could be the cause of his poor shooting (TS - 38%) to start the season.

Johnson is battling a possible DNP-CD, which is an entirely different set of problems.

Last year, nearly 42 percent of Johnson’s total points came in the paint. Currently, he’s hovering around 25 percent. That’s a big drop-off, especially for a player with his physical tools. Small sample size in regards to minutes played, but it’s something that can be corrected.

Since day one, Johnson has exuded confidence, and it’s hard to imagine any shortage in that category, but simply seeing the ball go through the hoop can do wonders for a player’s mindset.

Creating an easy look can go a long way:

That’s about as simple as it gets. Of course, he must be on the court for this to happen. Of Detroit’s 15 games, Johnson’s had a meaningful impact in just one - a home win against Denver in which he scored 12 points. It’s been an ugly stretch of basketball that has Johnson losing backup shooting guard minutes to Reggie Bullock and trying to secure forward minutes behind Marcus Morris, Tobias Harris and Jon Leuer.

*****

Andre Drummond relies on his athleticism too much. Nothing new. Although it drives the DBB Game Thread crazy (and rightfully so), he can sometimes get away without boxing out, closing out or any other action against lesser big men but not against Hassan Whiteside.

Whiteside will make you pay on both ends of the floor for lazy play.

BTW - That’s fan favorite Beno Udrih - sans ponytail - with the dime.

Drummond was outplayed by Clint Capela and it seemed the root cause was a combination of disinterest and lack of awareness in the loss against Houston.

Capela was 7-of-10 shooting, finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks. Whiteside does everything Capela can do only better.

As a team, if the Pistons can’t control this:

or this:

It could be a very frustrating night.

Projected Lineups

Miami

Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, Hassan Whiteside, Derrick Williams, Josh Richardson

Detroit

Ish Smith, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Andre Drummond, Marcus Morris, Tobias Harris

Prediction

The Heat are coming off a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, a game that had Whiteside go for 32 points and 13 rebounds and pretty much everyone else contributing nothing. Goran Dragic, Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson combined for 6-of-31 shooting. Those are Ish-esque numbers.

The Heat lack a pass-first point guard and Whiteside - an emotional player - can be rattled if he’s not getting post touches. After a long spell of no looks at the hoop, Whiteside can and will rush shots just to get them off.

If - and this is big if - Drummond and the rest of the post defense can deny entry passes/lobs, control the pick and roll and in general make Miami’s big man unglued, it will go a long way towards a Detroit win.

That not only takes effort but multiple efforts on every possession, something Detroit has been reluctant to show.

Detroit needs this win not only to end a four game skid but to also capitalize on beating teams they should. After the Heat, the Clippers come to town and away games at Oklahoma City, Charlotte, Boston and Atlanta are right around the corner.

Oh my.

Heat 89, Pistons 101