Detroit Pistons beat Miami Heat, force Game 7 in East
Auburn Hills, June 5:
Defending champion Detroit swarmed and swatted its way to a dominant defensive performance to defeat the Miami Heat 91-66 on Saturday and force a deciding Game 7 in the NBA Eastern Conference finals. The tiebreaker will be held in Miami on Monday to determine who will meet San Antonio in the NBA Finals. And the deciding factor may end up being a player who was no factor at all in Game 6 — Dwyane Wade. A strained rib muscle was too painful for Miami’s emerging superstar to bear, and he decided to sit out just before gametime. Without their leading scorer, the Heat had no one aside from Shaquille O’Neal to give them an offensive boost — and there were several long stretches when that was exactly what Miami needed.
The 66 points represented the lowest postseason point total in Heat franchise history. The Pistons used runs of 13-0 and 10-0 in the second quarter to take a 44-32 halftime lead, and the lead grew to 23 before the third quarter was over. Miami didn’t reach 50 points until 8:07 remained in the fourth quarter, and by then the Pistons were already ahead by 26. Hamilton scored 24 points, Tayshaun Prince scored 16 and Chauncey Billups 14 for the Pistons. O’Neal led Miami with 24 points, but he was one of the main culprits when it came to failing to take care of the ball, committing six of the Heat’s 19 turnovers. The Heat now must hope that Wade’s injury starts to heal a lot quicker over the next 48 hours, or the chances increase that it will be the Pistons heading to San Antonio for Game 1 of the Finals on Thursday. Wade was replaced in the starting lineup by Rasual Butler, who scored 13 points.