Miami wins series 4-2 (Game 1 of 6)

Miami wins series 4-2

Game 1: Tuesday, May 23rd
Game 2: Thursday, May 25th
Game 3: Saturday, May 27th
Game 4: Monday, May 29th
Game 5: Wednesday, May 31st
Game 6: Friday, June 2nd

Heat 91

(52-30, 21-20 away)

Pistons 86

(64-18, 37-4 home)

8:00 PM ET, May 23, 2006

The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI

1 2 3 4 T
MIA 33 15 18 2591
DET 25 19 17 2586

Top Performers

Mia: D. Wade 25 Pts, 3 Reb, 5 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

Det: R. Hamilton 22 Pts, 4 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Blk

Wade, Heat take 1-0 lead on cold-shooting Pistons

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- The Miami Heat have other players they can go to besides Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade.

Good thing, too.

Daily Dime
You can chalk it up as just one victory for a well-rested team against a dog-tired one coming off a seven-game series, or you can surmise that Miami is playing at such a crisp and efficient level that the Pistons' entire postseason hopes will be riding on the outcome of Game 2 Thursday night.

To read more of Chris Sheridan's analysis in the Tuesday night Daily Dime, click here.

The veteran trio of Antoine Walker, Gary Payton and Jason Williams -- brought on to help O'Neal and Wade get past the Pistons -- were so effective in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals that they didn't need superstar efforts from their superstar duo to steal home-court advantage from Detroit.

Walker finished with 17 points, Payton came off the bench to score 14, and Williams had 10 to lead Miami to a 91-86 victory Tuesday night.

"It's not like we're rookies," Payton said.

Wade, who sat out more than 10 straight minutes of the second half with four fouls, had 25 points in 27 minutes and O'Neal scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half -- making the Heat feel even better about starting the series strong.

"I think that's the first time this season, other than injuries, that they've both been out for extended periods," Riley said. "That's why the last four or five minutes of the second period might have determined the game, even though they came back in the third."

The Pistons, who trailed by as much as 12 in the first quarter and nine in the second, took their first lead on Chauncey Billups' layup with 6:55 to go in the third quarter.

The two-time defending conference champions didn't enjoy the lead long.

Miami snatched control of the game with a 20-5 run, taking a 75-65 lead midway through the fourth quarter.

"Their supporting cast was good -- and that was the difference," Billups said.

Detroit's backcourt scored a lot, but missed a ton of shots.

Richard Hamilton had 22 points on 9-of-22 shooting and Billups finished with 19 on 6-of-19 shooting.

"We missed shots that we normally make," Billups said.

Detroit's Tayshaun Prince scored 16 points, reserve Antonio McDyess added 10 and Rasheed Wallace had a quiet night -- scoring just seven points after missing seven of 10 shots -- perhaps slowed down by an injured ankle.

Game 2 is Thursday night at The Palace before the best-of-seven series shifts to Miami.

"The game becomes huge, no question," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "We have to grab the momentum of the series back."

Wade was called for his third foul with 7:47 left in the first half, with 13 points on 6-of-6, and O'Neal went to the bench a few minutes later with three fouls and 12 points after missing only one of six shots.

"I was in a groove, but I couldn't really get into a rhythm," Wade said.

With Miami's leaders on the bench, the Pistons seemed to have a perfect opportunity to their first lead.

But the Heat's role players, led by Payton, turned a three-point advantage into a 48-39 lead late in the first half.

The same scenario played out shortly after Wade was called for his fourth foul with 7:14 left in the third quarter.

After Wade went back to the bench, Detroit went ahead 60-55 -- its largest lead -- before missing 12 straight shots, falling behind by eight and failing to mount much of a comeback.

"That's what it's going to take -- a total team effort against a championship team like Detroit," O'Neal said. "Our two main guys got into some foul trouble, but they just came and played good ball, moved the ball and hit open shots.

"If they can do that for the rest of the series -- for the rest of the season -- we should be OK."

The Pistons played just two days after being pushed to seven games by the Cleveland Cavaliers while the Heat played one week after eliminating New Jersey in five games.

Elias Says
Detroit Pistons
The Pistons backcourt had a poor shooting night in Tuesday's 91-86 loss to the Heat. Richard Hamilton shot 9-for-22 from the floor, and Chauncey Billups shot 6-for-19. It was the first time in 27 years that both starting guards on one team missed at least 13 field-goal attempts in a conference final or NBA final game. The last time was in 1979, when the Sonics lost to the Suns, 103-97, with Gus Williams shooting 4-for-22 and Dennis Johnson shooting 3-for-17.

• For more Elias Says, Click here

Walker, Payton and Williams were among the players picked up by Riley when he was only the team's president last offseason, before he went back to the sideline when coach Stan Van Gundy resigned for family reasons.

The famed coach made the drastic changes after Miami lost a 3-2 lead in the conference finals last year against Detroit, which advanced to the finals with a win on the road in Game 7.

The Pistons are the NBA's first team since the Chicago Bulls of the early 1990s to play in four straight conference finals.

Miami went ahead 11-0 while Detroit missed its first six shots. The Heat's lead hovered between eight and 12 for the rest of the quarter, taking a 33-25 lead into the second quarter.

The Pistons probably were thankful their deficit wasn't larger because Miami was outshooting them 75 to 35 percent.

Detroit didn't shoot much better in the second quarter, but benefited from O'Neal and Wade's foul trouble. The Pistons' 15-3 run pulled them within one point midway through the quarter, but they appeared to relax when both of Miami's stars were on the bench and they ended up trailing 48-44 at halftime.

Miami started the second half strong, too, taking an eight-point lead before four Pistons scored -- including Rasheed Wallace with his first points on a 3-pointer -- and Billups put them ahead for the first time.

Wallace sprained his right ankle against the Cavs, and hasn't been able to consistently play as well at both ends of the court.

"He looked worn a little bit," Saunders said. "We need to get rejuvenated quick."

Game Notes
Late in the game, the Heat went with Hack-A-Ben scheme and the Pistons responded by Hack-A-Shaq plan, trying to get Ben Wallace and O'Neal -- both awful free throw shooters -- on the line. ... The Heat are 8-0 this postseason when leading at the half. ... As coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, Riley faced the Pistons in the 1988 and '89 finals and won the first matchup and lost the next. ... O'Neal moved past Karl Malone for third in career playoff scoring. O'Neal has 4,772 points to Malone's 4,761. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is second with 5,762 points and Michael Jordan leads with 5,987.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 91 86
FGM-FGA 36-64 (.563) 31-82 (.378)
3PM-3PA 5-14 (.357) 5-21 (.238)
FTM-FTA 14-21 (.667) 19-22 (.864)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 5-43 9-33
Assists 13 16
Turnovers 16 6
Steals 5 7
Blocks 6 1
Fast Break Points 8 8
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 21 (2/1) 17 (0/0)
Largest Lead 13 5

Top Performers

Dwyane Wade Wade
Points: 25
Reb: 3
Ast: 5
Stl: 2
Blk: 1
Richard Hamilton Hamilton
Points: 22
Reb: 4
Ast: 3
Stl: 0
Blk: 1