Detroit point guard Killian Hayes, whose 3-point shooting is up in his third NBA season, is hoping to display his improvement on Tuesday night when the Pistons visit the Miami Heat.
Hayes is shooting 33.8 percent from beyond the arc this season. That’s significantly better than his 26.8 percent long-distance marksmanship over the past two seasons.
He has scored in double figures in five consecutive games, including a 22-point effort in an overtime win over the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday. Hayes had eight of his 22 points in OT, making a pair of clutch 3-pointers.
“The first one felt good,” said Hayes, 21, “and the second one felt even better.”
Pistons coach Dwane Casey seems to have confidence in Hayes, who is averaging 8.1 points while ranking second on the team in assists (4.7 per game) and second in steals (1.1 per game).
“He’s our best playmaker and our best point guard,” Casey said. “He’s also our best defender on point guards.”
The Pistons, who are 3-4 since a seven-game losing streak in November, are led in scoring by Bojan Bogdanovic (20.6 points per game). Young Pistons star Cade Cunningham (19.9 scoring average, team-high 6.0 assists) remains out due to a shin injury.
Reserve forward Saddiq Bey is coming off a team-high, 24-point performance on Sunday in Detroit’s 122-112 defeat against the visiting Memphis Grizzlies.
In fact, that’s one thing the Pistons and Heat have in common: Both teams lost to the Grizzlies in their most recent game.
The Heat lost 101-93 at Memphis on Monday.
The Grizzlies outscored the Heat 64-24 in the paint, and that statistic bothered Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.
“That looks like a misprint — 64 points in the paint,” Spoelstra said. “They dominated us in the paint. We typically do that well, but we were not able to contain dribble penetration, cuts, offensive rebounds and pick-and-rolls to the paint.
“It was a disappointing loss. It was not one of our better defensive performances of the year.”
Shooting guard Tyler Herro led Miami with 23 points, and he added a game-high 13 rebounds. Jimmy Butler added 18 points, a team-high eight assists and six rebounds.
It wasn’t enough, though, and Spoelstra said his team has to quickly turn its attention to the Pistons on the second night of back-to-back games.
“If we had a normal off day, we would get to work,” Spoelstra said when asked about fixing the issues his squad had against Memphis. “But we don’t have time.
“We have to get on the plane and get some rest. We have some guys who are still on the mend and getting healthy. We have to get ready for another tough battle (on Tuesday). We can’t even look at (Detroit’s win-loss) record.”
Miami is 3-9 on the road but 8-4 at home.
“I just know they are a Dwane Casey-coached team and they are going to play physical,” Spoelstra said of the Pistons. “They are going to play with force.
“They have great habits that they are developing. They are a young team with a lot of energy. We have to gear up and get ready for them.”