Okay, I'm pressed for time here, so here's what we saw in Pistons/Heat Game 1, and we'll see tonight how Monday's events affect the game later on tonight. Everyone here knows how superstitious I am, so no predictions will be given. This should be a shock to exactly 0 people.
Things Miami liked/Things the Pistons need to be worried about
1. Shaq, while not 100%, is still very productive. He's the single most dominant force in basketball, even at 70% or whatever he is.
2. Dwyane Wade usually follows up bad performances with much better ones. It remains to be seen whether he can do this against the Pistons.
3. The Heat outscored the Pistons in the paint 52-30. If that happens again tonight, the Pistons have about a 7% chance of winning.
4. The injury gets literally no pub compared to the Shaq soap opera, but Rip Hamilton still looks hurt. He put up 16, but he was visibly limping at times. He's the team's #2 crunch-time option, and the Pistons may be able to squeak by Miami with Rip playing at about 80%, but they don't have a shot in hell against the Spurs (if the Pistons get there).
Things the Pistons liked/Things Miami needs to be worried about
1. Miami was obviously rattled in the last 5 minutes the other night. If the Pistons' experience on the big stage (in relation to Miami's lack of that experience) continues to be that big of a factor, this series could be over quickly.
2. Miami outscored the Pistons 52-30 in the paint, shot a better % than the Pistons, won the rebounding battle, got about the best game out of Eddie Jones that they're likely to get in this series, and got a productive game out of Shaq on both ends of the floor ... and still lost. The Pistons' defensive strategy against the Lakers last year -- play everyone straight-up and honest, let Shaq get what he gets, and don't let the other guys beat you -- appears (through one game) to be doing the trick again this year.
3. The Pistons have matchup advantages at almost every position. Dwyane Wade has to guard either Rip (who will run him ragged around picks so that Wade is exhausted by the 4th quarter) or Tayshaun (who has 5"-6" on Wade, and took The Big Typo into the post often and effectively on Monday, to the point that Wade actually looked over at Stan Van RonJeremy with a huge pout, as if to say "I just can't stop him"). Rasheed Wallace is eating Udonis Haslem alive, inside and out. And when Chauncey Billups decides that he wants to score, Damon Jones doesn't have a prayer in hell of stopping him. Detroit's advantage at PG is almost laughable, to the point where Miami may actually need to turn to Keyon Dooling to stop the bleeding. Yeah, I said it.
Okay, gotta go. GO PISTONS!