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Pistons vs. Heat preview: Starting off the road trip in South Beach

The Pistons start off their 3 game road trip with a matchup against the best team in the East

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Miami Heat Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Despite being short-handed the last couple games, the Detroit Pistons have managed to have competitive losses to both the Clippers and Celtics. The Pistons are finally looking like the fun tanking team last season that played competitive games against the better teams in the league and made them worth watching.

It took a while to get to this point, but we might be in for another competitive game against the best in the East, Miami Heat.

The Pistons will have some reinforcements on the way with a few players returning from injury, so that should help their starting lineup that has been a bit over-strained the last couple games.

Game Vitals

When: 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: FTX Arena in Miami, Florida
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +12.5 per DraftKings SportsBook

Analysis

The Heat still sit at the top of the conference as we inch closer and closer to the start of the playoffs. The consensus was that the Miami Heat would be good this season, but I don’t think anybody foresaw a number one seed in the Eastern Conference out of them.

The Heat are just a really well-balanced team that has a lot of depth, which has helped a lot as the have dealt with various injuries to Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Both players are healthy now, but they both have missed quite a few games this season. It has allowed players like Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, Caleb Martin, and a few others to get playing time and just like has been typical of the Miami Heat over the years, they have played well.

The Heat specialize in pulling players out of nowhere and turning them into contributors. They have their starting lineup, which has been build through free agency mostly, then their depth players that are built through solid player development.

Just to show how well-balanced the Heat are, their leading scorer this season is Tyler Herro, and he comes off the bench.

Everybody in the Heat’s usual starting lineup averages double digit points, outside of PJ Tucker, who has never been a big-time scorer.

For the Pistons, they will have reinforcements coming in the form of Isaiah Stewart, and probably Killian Hayes and Rodney McGruder. A big reason for 4th quarter collapses in their last couple games has been because they have been forced to only play 8 players and play their starters more minutes. Cade Cunningham played 44 minutes against the Clippers on Sunday, which is not ideal even though he is young.

I would expect with Hayes likely back that they will try to get Cade Cunningham’s minutes down a bit. Part of the reason Cade has been able to play more minutes recently is because he has gotten his foul trouble in check that was plaguing him in February and early-March. The Pistons need Cade Cunningham to have any chance in any game, which is a huge burden for anybody to shoulder, let alone a 20 year old rookie. But that is why he was the number 1 pick.

The game plan for the Pistons should be the same it has been in the month of March. It has mainly been due to their young players reaching a new level of play, but the Pistons have consistently been in games regardless of who they have been playing. Miami is going to defend them tough, and they have a lot of veterans that will cause some problems for the Pistons’ young players, but that hasn’t bothered them the last few weeks.

Projected Lineups

Miami Heat (45-24)

Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson, Jimmy Butler, PJ Tucker, Bam Adebayo

Detroit Pistons (18-50)

Cade Cunningham, Cory Joseph, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Isaiah Stewart

Question of the Day

Do you believe in positive momentum heading into the offseason? Would you rather the Pistons keep winning and carry positive momentum into the offseason, or get the tank back on track over the last month and a half of the season?

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