Full-strength Pistons ready to host Heat
The Detroit Pistons are thrilled to have all their players back. The abundance of veteran players on the Miami Heat's roster has some players grumbling.
Those two teams will meet at Detroit's Little Caesars Arena on Friday.
Detroit's second unit has been fortified by the return of point guard Ish Smith and center Zaza Pachulia. Smith has played the last two games after missing more than a month with an adductor tear. Pachulia was back in action during the Pistons' 120-115 overtime victory against Orlando on Wednesday after missing the previous eight games due to a leg contusion.
The reserves supplied 42 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists while making just two turnovers against the Magic. The Pistons (19-24) won for just the sixth time in 23 games.
"We feel whole," coach Dwane Casey said to Detroit Free Press. "The speed of the game, the physicality is back with the second unit. The passing, the screening is back with the second unit with Zaza back. We have players that have gifts where other players have weaknesses. They kind of complement each other. You take one of those out, it really disrupts us."
Pachulia contributed six points, three rebounds and three assists in a 15-minute stint. His screening helped to free up shooters like second-year guard Luke Kennard, who had 14 points.
"A lot of guys don't want to screen because it's flesh on flesh," Casey said. "It's not like football where you have knee pads and all that. Flesh on flesh, try to do that sometime, it's hard. The willingness and toughness you have to have to put your body into another 200-pound guy coming at you full speed, it takes courage."
The Heat's primary focus will be to keep Blake Griffin in check and Andre Drummond off the boards. Griffin scored 30 points against the Magic, including the last five of the game, while Drummond pulled down 22 rebounds, 11 at the offensive end.
Miami (21-21) got blown out by Milwaukee, 124-86, in its most recent game on Tuesday. Afterward, guard Dion Waiters complained about his playing time.
Waiters has appeared in five games since recovering from a long-term ankle injury. He saw just 12 minutes of action against the Bucks.
"I want to play. I've been patient long enough," he said to the Miami Herald. "What do I got to be patient for? Come on, man. I've been patient. I think everybody knows that. It's time. What are we waiting for? If I'm out there, play me."
Waiters was the 11th player to enter the game and scored two points with three turnovers.
Forward Justise Winslow criticized some of his teammates for their lack of fight.
"Guys looked like we didn't want to be here when we were down 20 (points)," he told the Herald. "We can't have that. Guys got to want to compete from 20, (30) down. We became disconnected."
Guard Wayne Ellington is also frustrated with his playing time. He played eight minutes on Tuesday after not appearing in the previous nine games.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 17, 2019