In their first meeting of 2008-09, a healthy Dwyane Wade looks to lead Miami to it first victory at The Palace in more than four years when it faces Detroit, which is in the midst of its worst home losing streak in eight years.
Wade missed 31 games last season due to various injuries and the Heat (26-21) finished with the NBA’s worst record. This season has been another story, as the five-time All-Star has played in every game and led Miami to the fifth-best record in the Eastern Conference - one game back of fourth-place Atlanta and a half-game ahead of the Pistons (25-21).
On Monday, Wade helped the Heat bounce back from consecutive losses, finishing with 32 points and nine assists in a 119-95 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. Miami shot a season-high 55.6 percent from the field, went 9-of-16 from beyond the 3-point arc and improved to 18-3 when scoring 99 points or more.
“We know we can score,” said Wade, who leads the league with 28.5 points per game. “Guys can shoot the ball on this team. … We’ve got a pretty deep team, and we’re going to need it.”
Wade will now look to help the Heat shake their recent struggles against Detroit. Miami has lost five straight against the Pistons and 16 of the last 19. The Heat have also dropped five in a row in Detroit since an 89-78 victory Dec. 30, 2004, and is 1-10 in its last 11 at The Palace.
The poor play against the Pistons can be attributed partly to Wade not being much of a factor in the series lately, as he’s played in only one of Miami’s last six games versus Detroit due to injuries.
In his last game against the Pistons on Feb. 6, Wade had 30 points and 12 assists in a 100-95 loss at The Palace.
The Pistons went on to win their fourth straight Central Division title last season, but are having little success at keeping pace with first-place Cleveland in 2008-09.
Detroit fell 90-80 to the Cavaliers on Sunday, its ninth defeat in 12 games. The Pistons have dropped four in a row at The Palace, their longest home skid since losing eight straight from Dec. 30, 2000-Feb. 2, 2001.
Detroit is still one of the top defensive teams in the league, allowing 93.2 points per game, but it’s struggled to find its offensive rhythm since trading for Allen Iverson. The Pistons are the second-lowest scoring team in the league at 92.9 ppg, and have been held to 91 points or fewer in 14 of their last 20 games.
Detroit went 59-23 last season, but is 21-21 since trading Chauncey Billups to Denver for Iverson three months ago.
“Our whole thing is, it better be figured out by the time we get to the playoffs,” Iverson said. “Regardless of where we’re seeded, we need to be playing at a high level and that’s the only thing I’m concerned about.”
Iverson finished with 22 points Sunday, snapping a five-game stretch in which he failed to reached the 20-point mark. The 10-time All-Star totaled 36 points on 35.9 percent shooting in two games against the Heat last season after averaging 35.5 points in his previous eight games versus them.