Detroit Pistons vs. Miami Heat: Postgame Grades and Analysis for Miami

Grant Hughes@@gt_hughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 26, 2013

Detroit Pistons vs. Miami Heat: Postgame Grades and Analysis for Miami

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    The Miami Heat sprinted to their fourth consecutive win, bolting past a stunned Detroit Pistons team, 110-88.

    The game actually looked like it'd be a fairly tight race in the early going, as the Pistons went big in an effort to exploit the Heat's well-documented deficiencies in the paint and on the glass. The little-used tandem of Greg Monroe and rookie Andre Drummond gave the Heat fits, as the pair combined for 21 points and seven rebounds on 8-of-11 shooting in the first half alone.

    But Dwyane Wade and the hard-charging Heat met Detroit's size with speed. And as the saying goes, speed kills.

    Miami's shooting guard matched a season high with 23 first-half points, and he was right in the middle of a second-quarter dunk-fest that propelled the Heat to a 26-4 run in the period.

    Things didn't get much better for the Pistons after the break, as Miami opened the third quarter with a full-court press that led to a turnover and an ensuing King James dunk. It was a track meet from there on out.

    Wade led Miami with 29 points, and if you didn't know any better, you might have thought you were seeing the 2006 version of the Heat guard; such were his levels of aggression and activity.

    Nobody is surprised by Miami's blitzing offensive style or the production of its stars, but what was particularly noteworthy about this game was Miami's plus-one advantage on the glass. It may not seem like much, but for a Heat team that typically suffers a nightly battering on the boards, a 36-35 victory in the rebounding department might be the most positive takeaway of all.

    Of course, Greg Monroe utterly torched Chris Bosh inside, so at least one of Miami's big flaws persisted.

    Still, the Heat played their style and showcased the speed and athleticism that makes them so dangerous. They were downright scary at times in this one.

Point Guard

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    Mario Chalmers: C+

    Coming off a terrific five-game stretch in which he shot nearly 58 percent from long distance (a 10-of-13 performance against the Sacramento Kings on Jan. 12 will do that), Mario Chalmers probably hoped to continue his hot run against a Detroit Pistons team that would have to devote its focus to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

    Instead, Chalmers essentially disappeared, knocking down just two shots in 27 minutes. In contrast to his recent hot streak, Miami's point guard bricked a trio of wide-open three-point looks.

    Nonetheless, Chalmers was active on defense and did generate four steals with his quick hands and long arms. He was the catalyst on a number of Miami's breakaways during a big second-quarter push that ultimately put the game out of reach.

    It'd be nice if he could find his stroke on a more consistent basis, but because he defended well and otherwise stayed out of the way, we won't dock him too hard for his final line of six points, two assists and two rebounds.

Shooting Guard

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    Dwyane Wade: A+

    After scoring a season-high 35 points in the Miami Heat's last contest against the Toronto Raptors on Jan. 23, Dwyane Wade came out against the Detroit Pistons with an obvious mind to continue his run of excellent play.

    Wade's relentless aggression definitely set the tone for Miami, as he had the Heat sprinting up and down the floor, harassing ball-handlers on defense and generally playing at a breakneck pace. His 23 first-half points matched a season high.

    It wasn't all about quick bursts to the bucket and alley-oops, though. Wade also gave Austin Daye a tutorial in his patented "old-man" pump fake in the second quarter, as he leaned into the airborne Pistons forward, took the contact and hit an impossible lefty heave as he tumbled to the floor.

    D-Wade finished with 29 points, seven assists and five rebounds on 12-of-20 shooting. Numbers aside, Wade looked, physically, more like the rangy, athletic guard we've been missing all season.

    If this is truly the form he's going to carry on through the rest of the season, and not just a brief streak, the Heat will continue to run past their opponents with ease.

    Because of his leadership and tone-setting energy, Wade deserves a high mark.

Small Forward

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    LeBron James: A+

    Overall, LeBron James had a fairly quiet evening.

    Of course, by his standards, a quiet evening results in a stat line that most NBA players would give years off their lives to enjoy. King James finished with 23 points, seven assists and seven rebounds on 9-of-14 shooting, which he punctuated (as usual) with several highlight-reel dunks.

    Since we're running out of ways to chronicle his greatness, we'll focus on just a pair of truly unique moments from LBJ's night.

    In the first quarter, LeBron backed down Rodney Stuckey with frightening ease and turned over his right shoulder for a simple left-handed bank shot from about four feet. It wasn't flashy, but it also wasn't something we see from James every day.

    The ease with which he recognized the situation and exploited it on the block clearly shows the maturation of James into a complete overall player with a devastatingly unfair post game.

    But who cares about that stuff?

    Let's get to his most exciting moment of the game: a full-speed tackle of a fan who won $75,000 with a half-court hook shot. After the lucky patron buried the improbable heave between the third and fourth quarters, James bolted off the bench, bear-hugged the dude and went to the ground in a giggling heap.

    It was a fantastic moment that displayed an obviously genuine joy from the league's best player. It didn't factor into the game, but it will be one of the season's most enduring moments. Great stuff.

Power Forward

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    Udonis Haslem: B

    It seems like this space is always reserved for criticism of Udonis Haslem's lack of statistical impact, but we're taking a different tack this time.

    Let's be honest, the Heat don't ask Haslem to do much. His primary directive is to be a physical presence in the frontcourt alongside the much wispier Chris Bosh. Because he always plays hard when he's on the floor and isn't afraid to mix things up, Haslem satisfies that requirement whenever he suits up.

    In addition to that, Miami really only hopes to get a handful of rebounds, one or two buckets and maybe a smart back-tap per game from Haslem.

    Based on those expectations, Haslem gave Miami almost everything it asked for against the Detroit Pistons. He was active on both ends, tipped a few balls, dove on the floor and played high-percentage basketball.

    There's never going to be anything particularly flashy about Miami's co-captain (although he did cram in a nice dunk on a backdoor cut), but that's fine. Haslem just does whatever he's asked to do. For that, he earns a slightly higher grade than his six points and five rebounds would otherwise warrant.


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    Chris Bosh: C-

    Stop me if you've heard this one before: Chris Bosh knocked down a couple of jumpers, had a highlight dunk and made half of his shots overall, but he didn't rebound and failed to defend the paint.

    That's been the common refrain on Bosh's game this year, and it was no different against the Detroit Pistons.

    The biggest impact Miami's de facto center had on this game was a actually a negative one, as Greg Monroe thoroughly dominated him in the middle. The Pistons' center finished with 31 points and 12 rebounds and was simply too much for Bosh to handle. If any other Pistons could have gotten going, this might have been a very different game.

    But LeBron James and Dwyane Wade controlled Detroit's perimeter players, so Monroe's beat-down of Bosh didn't result in a loss for Miami. All's well that ends well, but the Heat have to be concerned about their ongoing inability to handle opposing big men.

    Bosh finished with 14 points and seven rebounds, but until he either improves his defense or finds a way to tire out his matchups on the other end, Miami is always going to be vulnerable to teams with good size.

Sixth Man

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    Ray Allen: B

    As is the case with Udonis Haslem, the Miami Heat don't require a heck of a lot from Ray Allen. He's supposed to knock down open shots and help keep the floor spaced.

    Mission accomplished.

    Allen made 2-of-3 triples and kept the Detroit Pistons honest on D, which opened the lane up for a bevy of big finishes at the rim by LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

    Most impressively, Allen actually looked fairly spry, as he utilized a surprisingly quick first step to get to the line a few times. That may not sound like much, but anything he can do to keep defenses honest is a plus.

    Finally, thanks to either a complete brain fart by Pistons coach Lawrence Frank or a lack of confidence by Detroit's perimeter players, nobody really attacked Allen on defense. In other words, Miami got all of the good but none of the bad from their aging gunner in this one.


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    Bench Grade: B

    Nobody is really interested in hearing about Norris Cole's seven points or Mike Miller's three rebounds, are they? Good. That'll give us more time to talk about Chris Anderson, who got his first playing time of the season for the Miami Heat.

    Sure, it was garbage time, and the Birdman's two points and two rebounds didn't meaningfully affect the game, but hey, he's worth mentioning. If Anderson can give the Heat anything at all in the rebounding and shot-blocking departments, he'll be a very welcome addition.

    In his limited minutes, the free-agent pickup looked to be in very much the same form as he was when he suited up for the Denver Nuggets last year—which is to say: inked up and active.

    In less interesting news, Miami's bench (Ray Allen excluded) made 9-of-18 shots and scored 21 points. The reserves certainly didn't hurt the Heat, but with the way LeBron James and Dwyane Wade showed up, it wasn't like the bench was a critical element in this one.

    Still, a solid shooting night like the one Miami's subs enjoyed is worthy of a solid final grade. Besides, you can't spell "Birdman" without a "B."