Fine Line

Pistons look to score early vs. Heat, but can’t afford turnovers

The Pistons have their work cut out for them facing the triple-threat Miami Heat.
Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images
The Pistons will walk a fine line against the Miami Heat tonight at The Palace. Nobody makes you pay for turnovers like Miami – LeBron James and Dwyane Wade turn miscues into dunks with dizzying speed – and the Pistons have ranked at or near the bottom of the league in ball security through the first quarter of the NBA season. Yet Lawrence Frank knows that if the Pistons play at a deliberate pace in an attempt to better safeguard the basketball, they’ll be going against a set defense even harder to crack.

“They’re a team that can hurt you in a lot of different ways,” he said. “The thing that many times gets overlooked by the public is they’re one of the best defensive teams in the league. You have to look to score early because playing against their set defense poses problems. If they turn you over, they’re the best at not just two points but three-point plays. Their turnovers, they convert better than anyone in the league.

“It’s a formula for us. We struggle to score. We have to try to get a minimum of 20 opportunities attacking before the defense is set. That’s regardless of who we play.”

Wade has missed several recent games, including Miami’s win over Cleveland on Tuesday, but he traveled with the Heat and is expected to be a game-time decision with a sprained ankle. For the Pistons, the injury report remains the same: Charlie Villanueva (ankle), Will Bynum (foot) and Ben Gordon (shoulder) will remain out.

Wade has missed eight of Miami’s 17 games and is averaging 19.6 points, well off his norm. LeBron James leads Miami at 28.9 and Chris Bosh, coming off a 35-point game including a 17-point fourth quarter in Tuesday’s win, is at 21.4.

Frank scoffs at the notion that anyone thought Miami would have difficulty figuring out how to make the pieces fit when James and Bosh signed with the Heat as free agents in the summer of 2010.

“Great problem to have,” he said. “You’ve got two of the top five players on the same team. When you look at the great teams of yesteryear in the ’80s, think about Boston, Lakers, Detroit – three Hall of Famers on each team. They have two Hall of Famers and a very, very good All-Star player in Chris Bosh. Chemistry takes time. It’s not supposed to be easy. What they went through last year, that’s part of the process and the adversity and the rind. Going through what they went through in the Finals, that all helps them become the team they are and will be.”

  • Austin Daye’s personal trainer, Joe Abunassar, came to town at Daye’s request to help him work out, talk with him and boost his confidence, Daye said. Because Abunassar, a Farmington native who like Frank and Pistons personnel director George David was a student manager under Bobby Knight at Indiana, works with Daye in the summers, he has a barometer to gauge what might be causing Daye’s shooting woes so far.

    “He was with me last night,” he said. “We were shooting way late. Having him around is good for me because I know I can always get up some shots, hear some words of wisdom. It’s always good to talk to him because I like to pick his brain a lot and he brings out the best in me.”