Pistons vs Heat Game Preview - Mar. 23, 2011
The Miami Heat have had to deal with their fair share of injuries. Now they have yet another one to overcome as they push for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
With starting point guard Mario Chalmers out up to two weeks with a sprained right knee, the visiting Heat try for their ninth win in 10 meetings with the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Mike Miller and other Heat players have missed time due to injuries, while forward Udonis Haslem remains out after rupturing a ligament in his left foot Nov. 20.
Despite the rash of health problems, the third-place Heat (48-22) are just a few games out of the top spot in the East. Miami, though, will have to deal with another key personnel loss, as Chalmers was hurt in the first quarter of a 103-98 win over Denver on Saturday.
"Injuries have just figured out a way to bite us, seems at the wrong times," said James, averaging 38.0 points and 67.4 percent shooting in his last two games. "And it happened again (Saturday). Hopefully it's not a huge thing."
Mike Bibby, signed March 2 after being waived by Washington, went 4 of 8 from 3-point range and scored 14 points after replacing Chalmers on Saturday.
"I think Mike fits right in," said Wade, who scored 32 points against the Nuggets. "He's a guy who's great when he gets the ball ... a very good shooter and most importantly, he's a veteran guy who's very smart. He's going to be big for us in the playoffs."
Since surrendering an average of 101.4 points during a season-worst five-game losing streak, the Heat have limited opponents to 88.7 points and 40.8 percent shooting in taking five of six.
"A lot of ups and downs, but I think it's been good for this team," said Bosh, who had 18 points and 11 rebounds Saturday for his season-best fifth consecutive double-double. "After the smoke cleared, I think we're better."
Miami, which last swept the Pistons in 2000-01, has taken all three matchups this season while holding them to an average of 83.7 points.
James scored 39 in an 88-87 win over Detroit on Jan. 28 with Bosh and Wade sidelined.
Following a 1-6 stretch at home during which they averaged 91.3 points, the 11th-place Pistons (25-45) have won five of seven at The Palace of Auburn Hills, scoring 108.4 in that span.
Detroit, 5 1/2 games behind Indiana for the final playoff spot, had allowed an average of 94.0 points in back-to-back wins before falling 104-96 at Atlanta on Sunday - its seventh consecutive defeat on the road.
The Pistons dropped to 3-29 in regulation when giving up 100 or more points.
Rodney Stuckey had 22 points and eight assists while fellow reserve Chris Wilcox went 9 of 10 from the floor for 18 points.
Wilcox has averaged 14.5 points during his last four games - 8.0 more than his season mark.
"He's been outstanding," coach John Kuester told the Pistons' official website. "The things we've been working on during practice have carried over to what we're doing in games. He's one of the guys who can play above the rim."
Richard Hamilton returned after missing one game due to the death of his grandfather. He had six points on 2-of-9 shooting after averaging 19.8 over his four previous games.