Bench Propels Miami Heat to Victory Despite Missing Three Starters
After losing a close game to the Eastern Conference leading Indiana Pacers, it was clear the Miami Heat would come out swinging, no matter whom the opponent. This game was a chance for the defending champs to get back to their identity, especially on the offensive end. The ball movement executed in this game by the Heat was magnificent, especially considering three starters were absent from the lineup.With Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers, and Greg Oden absent from the starting lineup, this was an opportunity for the Detroit Pistons to grab a win and get closer to the eighth seed in the playoffs. Unfortunately, the Heat’s bench decided to show up and close the game out, leaving the Palace with a final score of 110-78.
By halftime, the Heat’s second unit of Rashard Lewis, Chris Andersen, Shane Battier, and Norris Cole had combined for 24 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds. In comparison, the Pistons’ bench at half scored just 16 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists. The differences in efficiency can obviously be seen. Most notably, the shooting efficiency from Udonis Haslem was off the charts. For a players who has averaged just 11.9 minutes a game this season, his ability to go 8-11 from the field while scoring 17 points and grabbing 5 rebounds against a huge Pistons’ front line is something the Heat will absolutely need injected into their second unit once the playoffs arrive, especially against some of their larger potential opponents.
The Heat were tuned in from the beginning tip-off at the Palace right until the final buzzer. The second unit ended the night with 42 points, 17 rebounds, and 8 assists, and because they played so well, the fact that LeBron James notched a triple-double might even go unnoticed. This was a dominating victory for the defending champs and the team needed it to sooth its collective psyche. The Heat typically struggle against the Pistons at the Palace, but not tonight. Even on a night when a few starters were missing, the Heat just could not be stopped.