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3-on-3: Feeling (and beating?) the Heat

Modeled after ESPN’s 5-on-5, three of us will answer three questions about a Pistons-related topic. Please add your responses in the comments.

1.  While the Heat have cruised to the second-best record in the Eastern Conference this season, all three of their losses have come against teams with a combined record of 18-36. What gives?

Dan Feldman: Those losses came by four points, one point and one point. Miami has also won 10 straight since that last defeat. So, what gives? The proverbial inability to win them all. That’s it. I don’t think Miami is any more susceptible to losing to bad teams than any other back-to-back defending champion favorited to repeat. The Heat have their eyes on the playoffs, so they might not rout every bad team, and anything can happen in close games.

Brady Fredericksen:  It’s hard to push the pedal to the metal nightly. It’s odd that the Heat’s three losses have come against bad teams like Philly, Boston and Brooklyn — not to mention they almost lost to Charlotte last night. Sometimes it’s just hard to get motivated, and that happens to all of us. The Pistons took out a sleeping (and Dwyane Wade-less) Heat team last season at the Palace, too. When you’re as good as Miami is, and as the Pistons were in their glory days, you can turn “it” on when you please.

Tim Thielke: The Heat are good enough to beat any given team. But they can’t play full throttle all the time because of the long schedule. So they let any team hang around. The fact that bad ones have prevailed is just flukish.

2. Both side have their own unique strengths, but what in particular will each be able to exploit during the game?

Dan Feldman: The Heat create and make a lot of 3-pointers, and the Pistons are particularly bad at defending the perimeter. I don’t see either team deviating from its season-long marks there. On the flip side, the Heat basically surrender the offensive glass in order to get back on defense. The Pistons, one of the NBA’s top defensive rebounding teams, should have no issue securing Miami’s misses. Generating transition opportunities afterward should prove much more difficult, though.

Brady Fredericksen:  Miami’s going to be able to exploit its shooting and plethora of playmakers, but the Pistons have a big advantage down low. Most of the Heat’s success comes from lineups where they’ve got LeBron James and Chris Bosh manning the power forward and center spots. That presents a speed/athleticism advantage, but the Pistons are going to be able to throw big man after big man at Miami. If the Pistons can pound the paint and defend it effectively, that may be enough to keep things close.

Tim Thielke: What are sometimes labeled “hustle points” ought to show the biggest margins. Detroit should dominate the second chance points while Miami runs away on fast break points.

3. What are the Pistons going to have to do in order to upset the defending champs on the road?

Dan Feldman: Ride Andre Drummond and make the Heat adjust. The Pistons will probably lose this game no matter what strategy they use, but if they play it on Miami’s small-ball terms, their odds decrease even further. Go big, feed Drummond inside and hope the Heat must deviate from their preferred rotations in order to match up.

Brady Fredericksen:  Hope LeBron has an off night.  That’s the easiest way to beat Miami, but on the same token, I’m also interested in how Josh Smith’s defends him. Unfortunately, LeBron has treated Smith like a  throughout their careers. They’ve played 29 times, and in that span LeBron has dropped 40, 43 and 48 points on Smith-led teams — all while averaging 29 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. That is, um, well, not fair.

Tim Thielke: Honestly, their best shot is Miami not respecting Detroit and letting them stick around through the first 3 quarters. And they really need to work to limit turnovers. Those are free points for the Heat. But I don’t think this is a good matchup for the Pistons. Pencil in a loss.


  • Dec 3, 201311:05 am
    by Georgio


    The key is to limit turnovers and go inside to Monroe, not Drummond.  Monroe’s post game is superior to Drummond’s and Battier is much too small to guard him, also Monroe is a better free throw shooter. Most importantly also is the Heat’s defense will collapse on Monroe to protect Battier so our shooters will have to make shots. If they’re clanking them then it’s going to a tough night inside for Monroe. Lastly the Pistons have to push the ball at every opportunity, rebound run, turnover run, you don’t want to play against their set defense all game. Jennings has to protect the ball for us to have a chance. 

    • Dec 3, 201312:39 pm
      by Tim Thielke


      You don’t want to play against a set defense, but the Heat are one of the best teams in the league at playing well while scrambling. A fast pace greatly favors them for that reason and because it creates more possessions. More possessions mean the better team is more likely to win.

      The Pistons will be much better served if this game turns into a grind. Constantly trying to run and push the ball quickly creates live ball turnovers, those are pure gold for Miami.

    • Dec 3, 20133:18 pm
      by Otis


      Battier has never had a problem defending Monroe. Not even a little. The way Battier defends Monroe is one of my favorite displays of what a bad PF he is. So much for a supposed size advantage at the four; dude can’t even exploit natural SF.

      • Dec 3, 20133:30 pm
        by TheBigS


        I agree. For Moose to earn and deserve a max deal, he must be able to exploit a matchup like this. If he plays well against Battier and the Heat, he may prove me wrong but for now, Monroe is not imposing enough for a 6’11″ 250+ pound man.

      • Dec 3, 20134:28 pm
        by MIKEYDE248


        Monroe averaged 27.0 points and 13.5 rebounds in the two losses in Miami.
        I hope everyone the Pistons play defends him that well.

      • Dec 3, 20134:29 pm
        by Huddy


        If you look at Greg Monroe’s record against the Heat it doesn’t seem to be a particularly bad match up for him.  He had a 23 and 15 game, a 31 and 12 game, a 6 point game(6 shots) coming in a win where CV and Drummond played well, an 11pt and 7 game in 26 min, a 5pt 6rb game in 23 min, and a 20 and 10 game…not to mention almost all those games come with primarily big game from Lebron and Wade (no surprise) and no real unsual dominance from the complimentary big men to show Monroe losing any battles on the other end (I think 1 particularly good performance from Bosh, but while Maxiel was our center and the conversation is regarding Battier being Monroe’s mark). 
        Theres no record of consistent dominance from Battier over Monroe (or the heat in general over him).  He has had quality shooting percentages on the big scoring nights as well.  Battier is a good defender and if you can put  your consistent complaints about Monroe in general aside there is no real basis for the heat being a perfect example of how bad of a PF he is unless for his performance to be good he needs to put up 40 and 20 or something. 
        Georgios point about getting the ball in to Monroe as opposed to Drummond makes sense.  Drummond doesn’t create shots in the post.  Monroe passes well in the post and has an offensive post game…that isn’t a knock on Drummond or a some insane high praise for Monore it is just the truth.  Of the two players there is one that you would throw the ball in to and see what they can do with it and there is one that you look for on lobs, to get offensive rebounds, and to get open if Monroe is doubled for some reason.

        • Dec 3, 20135:25 pm
          by Gordbrown


          when Monroe is doubled for obvious reasons (fixed this for you)

          • Dec 3, 20136:53 pm
            by Huddy

            He is not doubled often by other big men because that leaves open lay ups and the floor spacing isn’t great so it isn’t necessary.  He can draw pressure from wings trying to get steals when he holds the ball too long, but that frees up our outside shooters that haven’t been hitting open looks.  Drummond is good at finding openings when they are there, but you don’t see him standing around wide open because of a Monroe double often.

  • Dec 3, 20132:01 pm
    by MIKEYDE248


    Looking back at the last couple of years in the playoff, the Heat struggled the most against teams that play tough defense, like the Bulls and Pacers.
    The big boys need to stay home and protect the paint while everyone else scrambles to limit their 3 point shooters.

    • Dec 3, 20135:26 pm
      by gmehl


      “protect the paint while everyone else scrambles to limit their 3 point shooters”

      Yeah it sounds a lot more simple than it should be. You can only just imagine the scouting report on us. I would go something like:

      On offence keep moving the ball around the perimeter (fast) until you hit the open man because they are slow to close out. Crash the offensive glass when gunning from the perimeter as they will be slow due to there towering front line. Once you start hit some outside shots swing it inside and exploit the slow footed Greg Monroe.

      On defence clog the lane and make there outside shooters beat us. Yep that is about it. 

  • Dec 3, 20135:12 pm
    by gmehl


    So here’s a question for you… how many 3′s will Ray Allen hit tonight? a) 0  b) 1 to 4  c) 4 to 7  d) 7 to 10

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