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Pistons at Heat preview: Detroit carries momentum into Miami

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On the second night of a back-to-back, Detroit faces a team they’re fighting to stay above in the standings

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

Whew, that was an exciting win over the Atlanta Hawks last night. The game had everything - an Andre 20/20 night, Reggie Jackson scoring a season-high, a Thon Maker game-winner, ...Bruce Brown jawing... with... Quavo?

Yeah, just another night in the crazy NBA. Tonight, the Pistons face another opponent that tends to result in wild occurrences - the Miami Heat.

Game Vitals:

When: February 23, 2019, at 7:30 p.m. EST
Where: American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit, NBA League Pass
Odds: Det +4.0

Analysis:

With the win and Miami’s loss to Philadelphia on Thursday, the Pistons now have a full game lead on the Heat for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. These two teams play one more time after tonight, offering both a chance to seize the head-to-head tiebreaker that’s at the top of the tiebreaker list:

Suffice to say, the Pistons could really use this one, without the oddities that have plagued Pistons-Heat games this season. To recap the weirdness that has occurred this season between the Heat and the Pistons:

  • November 5: Blake Griffin fouls twice in the last three minutes of the fourth quarter, fouling out before overtime. Reggie Jackson scores 25 and weaves his magic in overtime, but the Pistons’ inability to defend any variation of the Spain PNR causes them to lose, 120-115.
  • January 18: James Johnson whacks Andre Drummond in the face (NO CALL, btw), concussing Dre. In response, Blake puts up 32-11-9 and Luke Kennard puts up 22 off the bench to keep the Pistons afloat, and they win 98-93.

If the Pistons can finish the game with both Blake and Andre on the court, that’s a prelude to a Pistons win.

Miami was much farther ahead in the standings not too long ago, but the month of February has been brutal for the Heat. They have the NBA’s third-worst offensive rating in February, behind explosive offenses like... the Cleveland Cavaliers. An inability to score and their schedule toughening up have been the main culprits behind their slide; the Heat are 3-7 in their last 10 games. Help is on the horizon for Miami, though - Goran Dragic is listed as questionable for tonight’s game, and would give them another ballhandler and shot-maker to help out their offense if he were to play.

Pistons fans should be well aware what a healthy point guard can add to a team, because they’re seeing it right now in the stretch Reggie Jackson is having. 32 points and eight assists last night for Reggie, including the assist on the game-winner:

Reggie’s play has unlocked a new dimension of the Pistons’ offense, and that is driving them to wins: The Pistons have the fifth-highest ORTG in the NBA for the month of February, well outside what you would reasonably expect even at this team’s peak.

Last, but certainly not least, let’s hope Wayne Ellington A) has the revenge game he wants and B) snitches like Otto Porter Jr. :

The Pistons could use a significant performance from their Significant Recruiting Victory.

Projected Lineups:

Detroit Pistons (27-30):
Reggie Jackson, Wayne Ellington, Bruce Brown Jr., Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond

Miami Heat (26-31):
Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters, Josh Richardson, Kelly Olynyk, Hassan Whiteside

Prediction:

Detroit 104, Miami 100