No Wade... No Way
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., June 4 (Ticker) -- Dwyane Wade
could only sit
and watch. And when he winced, you could not tell whether he
was pained by his strained rib muscle or his team's play.
Playing without Wade, the Miami Heat was run off the court by
the Detroit Pistons, who forced Game 7 of the Eastern
Conference finals with a 91-66 victory.
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An emerging superstar, Wade had averaged 30 points through the
first four games before suffering the injury in the third
quarter of Miami's Game 5 win. He tried to work through it
but could not and left for good in the fourth quarter.
Wade did not practice Friday but intended to play, going through
pregame workouts with Heat assistant Erik Spoelstra while
wearing a gel-filled protective wrap. But he apparently felt
too much pain and changed back into street clothes, watching
helplessly from the bench as Miami's offense grinded to a halt
"Obviously, not having him, that impacted the game so much,"
Pistons coach Larry Brown
said. "You know, Dwyane ... makes
everybody better. Dwyane has the same effect on the game at
both ends. Obviously it helped."
Matched up with a desperate, defensive-minded Detroit, Miami was
held under 80 points for just the third time this season - all
against the Pistons. The Heat's total was a franchise low for a
playoff game, which includes all those 1990s scrums against the
New York Knicks.
Without Wade, the Heat had no one to start their offense and no
one to bail them out. In the first half, Miami had 14 baskets
and 12 turnovers, digging itself a 44-32 hole. It was even worse
in the third quarter, which Detroit closed with a 9-0 burst for
a 69-45 bulge.
"They're a different ballclub. There's less penetration,"
Pistons forward Rasheed Wallace
said. "Wade likes to get to the
basket, so there was less penetration."
"We defended the way we want to defend," Pistons guard Richard Hamilton
said. "In the first half, they only had 32 points, so
we tried to force them to get turnovers and things like that."
The top-seeded Heat tried to force-feed superstar center
, who has been nursing a bruised thigh
throughout the postseason. O'Neal had his best statistical game
of the series with 24 points and 13 rebounds but also committed
six turnovers - as many as the Pistons.
"We tried to ... give him different looks as opposed to already
being behind him on three-quarter, just tried to find a little
bit of double(-team) early," Wallace said. "(We) just tried to
throw him off, keep him off-balance."
"I think we had trouble taking care of the ball," O'Neal said.
"We were right there in the first quarter, but the second
quarter we just had too many turnovers. I think we had 19
turnovers and just didn't take care of the ball. They got a lot
of easy baskets."
The injuries continued to pile up as well. Swingman Eddie Jones
, already playing with a bruised foot, suffered a cut over
his right eye in the third quarter that required stitches to
Hamilton scored 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting for the
second-seeded Pistons, who scored 25 points off 19 forced
turnovers and 19 fast-break points. Tayshaun Prince
points and nine rebounds and Chauncey Billups
scored 14 points.
"It's just amazing when you're down, the more desperate, the
more aggressive you get," Prince said.
"Our half-court defense was not all that bad, but we couldn't
rebound and we could not take care of the ball," Heat coach Stan Van Gundy
said. "They dominated us. After the first quarter,
they totally dominated us and I really don't have a lot else to
On Monday, Detroit will try for a rare Game 7 road win,
which has happened just 16 times in NBA history. Wade is
expected to try to play.
"It's win or go home," Heat guard Damon Jones
said. "And I
"I'm nervous about it," Brown said. "But I hope my players
enjoy this. The thing that I dread about Game 7 is for
players to worry about making mistakes. I just want them to
enjoy it and do the best they can and hopefully the best team
started for Wade and scored 13 points, including a
jumper that gave the Heat their last lead at 20-19 with 9:56
left in the second quarter. They went nearly five minutes
without a point as the Pistons rattled off 13 points,
highlighted by a pair of 3-pointers by Prince.
"They speeded us up a little bit," Jones said. "We turned the
basketball over too many times and they got to the open court
and got some fast-break points, and it was a free-for-all from
Butler's jumper and 3-pointer capped a 12-2 surge that made it a
game again as Miami closed to 34-32 with 1:54 to go. But the
Heat unraveled again as Hamilton scored five points in a 10-0
burst that closed the half.
Detroit began the third quarter with a 9-2 run and ended it with
nine straight points, prompting garbage time.