On Wednesday, the Detroit Pistons will visit the Miami Heat for their final meeting of the season. Detroit has won two of the previous three meetings.
Coming into the matchup, Detroit has won five of their last six games, and is seventh in the Eastern Conference standings. Miami is currently at the eighth spot, and is 5-5 in their last 10 games.
Wednesday’s game between Miami and Detroit may prove to be critical going towards the final playoff push.
Pistons putting the season in gear
The Pistons are getting hot at the right time. Throughout much of the season, Detroit has hovered between ninth and seventh place in the East. After a loss to Brooklyn Tuesday night, Detroit now sits a half game behind the Nets for the sixth seed. Behind the play of Blake Griffin, the Pistons are now 8-2 in their last 10 games.
In his second season with Detroit, forward Blake Griffin is having one of his best seasons yet.
Making his sixth All-Star appearance this year, Griffin is putting up a career-high in scoring, with 25.3 points per game. To go along, he is averaging 7.8 rebounds and 5.4 assists.
Center Andre Drummond is quietly having a career year as well. Drummond is averaging career highs in both points and rebounds.
Led by the reigning Coach of the Year Dwayne Casey, Detroit could potentially play first-round spoiler if they can keep up their success. The Pistons could give problems to Philadelphia or Indiana, and potentially upset them.
While the Pistons are still far from the top of the East, the core of Drummond and Griffin, along with Reggie Jackson’s 15.5 points per game, could potentially make noise going forward.
South Beach struggles
Despite being at the eighth seed currently, Miami still has a losing record this season. The Heat are fending off the Hornets and Magic, who are only a few games behind in the standings. Miami needs to close out the season strong to make it to the postseason.
The Heat’s scoring comes from several different players. Led by Josh Richardson with 17.2 points per game, Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside, and Justice Winslow all contribute double-figures for Miami. Even Dwayne Wade, in his final NBA season, is productive, averaging 14.2 points and 4.3 assists.
For Miami, ending the season on a winning note may be tough. They rank seventh in strength of schedule for their remaining games. Charlotte is right behind them at eighth, but Orlando is at 27th, giving them a good shot to steal Miami’s spot.
Wednesday’s game against Detroit would be a big game for Miami to win, and could set the tone for the playoff push.
Both Miami and Detroit rank in the middle of the road when it comes to defensive rating, so this game will be more offensively based.
A key matchup for Miami is how well Whiteside plays against Drummond. If Drummond can dominate the paint early, it will make Detroit’s offense more versatile.
Miami’s edge in this game comes from their bench. Miami is ranked fifth in the league in bench scoring, while Detroit is at the 22nd spot. The Pistons’ weaker bench will have to step up, with Luke Kennard and Wayne Ellington leading the way.
Detroit is hotter at the moment, but this won’t be an easy win on Miami’s home floor.
Detroit steals a win on the road behind Griffin; 110-104
Featured image credited to AP.