Lineups, line and pregame analysis for tonight’s game between the Heat and Pistons

PISTONS (28-44) AT HEAT (33-39)

Story on the Heat’s conundrum: Should Dwyane Wade rest his knee today or go for an important win amid the Heat’s playoff race?

When/Where: 6 p.m., AmericanAirlines Arena

TV/Radio: Sun Sports/FM 104.3, AM 790 and WAQI 710AM (Spanish)

Line: Heat by three. Opened at Heat by 2 1/2.

Series: Heat leads all-time series 50-45. This is the second of three games this season between the Heat and Pistons. Pistons won the first game 108-91 on Feb.3 in Auburn Hills, Mich. The teams play against in Auburn Hills on April 4 to complete the season series.

Injuries: Chris Bosh (blood clot), Josh McRoberts (right meniscus surgery), Chris Andersen (left calf contusion) and Hassan Whiteside (right hand laceration) are out for the Heat. Shabazz Napier (right hip pain) is out as well. Dwyane Wade (left knee contusion) is a game-time decision. For the Pistons, Brandon Jennings (ruptured Achilles tendon) is out. Greg Monroe (right knee strain) is questionable.

Analysis: The Heat has won four in a row at home and is 7-1 at home in March. Wade and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra likely are viewing this game as a must-win scenario, considering the Heat plays the Spurs on Tuesday before leaving for a difficult three-game road trip. The Pistons have won four in a row and five of their last six. The winning streak has included victories against the Grizzlies, Bulls, Celtics and Raptors. Detroit is getting some exceptional guard play from Reggie Jackson, who had a triple-double (26-11-10) in just 32 minutes on Friday in a victory against the Magic. Jackson is averaging 21.2 points, 11.8 assists and 6.8 rebounds in his last six games.

Starting lineup: Luol Deng, Henry Walker, Udonis Haslem, Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic

Starting lineup: Caron Butler, Anthony Tolliver, Andre Drummond, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Reggie Jackson.

STANDINGS

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Hassan Whiteside could miss significant time with hand injury

Hassan Whiteside offered a close look at his injured hand before Friday’s road game against the Atlanta Hawks and it didn’t look pretty.

Whiteside split his right hand between his forefinger and ring finger during the Heat’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday. It’s a significant injury and could sideline him for several games, or perhaps longer. Whiteside cut his hand on the rim and the wound required 10 stitches. The laceration split the webbing between his fingers.

There is no timetable for Whiteside’s return, but Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said the team’s center likely would be back for the playoffs. The injury currently is too painful for Whiteside to catch a basketball, according to Spoelstra.

“It needs to heal a little more before we take the next step,” Spoelstra said.

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Morning update on Dwyane Wade’s troublesome left knee

Dwyane Wade was scheduled to meet with doctors on Saturday morning and determine the best course of action to treat his ailing left knee amid the Heat’s playoff race.

Under normal circumstances, Wade likely would have fluid drained from his left knee and then rest for a few games, but that might not be an option for the veteran superstar now that center Hassan Whiteside is out with a badly lacerated right hand. The shorthanded Heat is facing a difficult schedule this week while clinging to the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference standings. The Heat is just one game ahead of the Celtics in the loss column.

Wade began feeling some discomfort in his knee before the Heat’s four-game road trip. He then sat out Wednesday’s victory against the Boston Celtics. Wade played just 21 minutes on Friday in the Heat’s blowout loss to the Hawks.

“I just tried to give my teammates something, but hopefully I’ll be better Sunday when I go back to Miami, see my doctors and see what they want to do,” Wade said. “I had a lot of fluid, and so in a perfect world I would love to get some fluid out.”

The Heat plays the Pistons on Sunday at AmericanAirlines Arena, and then the Spurs on Tuesday before a three-game road trip to Cleveland, Detroit and Indiana.

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An early look at tonight’s game between the Heat and Atlanta Hawks…

HAWKS (54-17) AT HEAT (33-38)

When/Where: 7:30 p.m., Philips Arena, Atlanta

TV/Radio: Sun Sports/FM 104.3, AM 790 and WAQI 710AM (Spanish)

Line: Hawks by nine. Opened at Hawks by 13.

Series: Heat leads all-time series 57-45. This is the final game of the season between the two division opponents. Heat is 0-3 this season against the Hawks.

Injuries: Hassan Whiteside (right hand laceration), Chris Bosh (blood clot) and Josh McRoberts (right meniscus surgery) are out for the Heat. Dwyane Wade (left knee contusion) and Chris Andersen (left calf contusion) are questionable. For the Hawks, Jeff Teague (left ankle sprain) and Mike Scott (left toe sprain) are out. Pero Antic (sore trap muscle) is questionable.

Early analysis: Udonis Haslem and Goran Dragic carried the Heat to an important victory on Wednesday against the Boston Celtics. The Heat is now two games ahead of the Celtics in the loss column with 11 games left of the regular season. With Whiteside out tonight and Andersen and Wade both questionable, the Heat once again will need some production from the bench to have a chance. It’s the end of a four-game road trip for the Heat, but the Hawks are dealing with their own injuries while cruising towards the playoffs. Atlanta lost three in a row before Wednesday’s victory against the Magic.

STANDINGS

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A few important notes before tonight’s game between the Heat and Denver Nuggets…

NUGGETS (26-43) AT HEAT (31-36)

When/Where: 7:30 p.m., AmericanAirlines Arena

TV/Radio: Sun Sports/FM 104.3, AM 790 and WAQI 710AM (Spanish)

Line: Heat by 7 1/2. Opened at 6.

Series: Heat leads 28-27. Nuggets won 102-82 in Denver on Dec.10.

Injuries: Chris Bosh Bosh (blood clot) and Josh McRoberts (right meniscus surgery) are out for the Heat.

EAST STANDINGS

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PREGAME THOUGHTS

— Dwyane Wade has scored at least 25 points in seven consecutive games. Earlier this week, Wade scored 32 against both Cleveland and Portland and the led the Heat to important back-to-back victories at home. Wade’s career record for consecutive games with at least 25 points is nine.

— The Heat is 6-1 at home in March and the team can win three consecutive games tonight for the first time since the first week of the season. One big factor for the turnaround has been stability in the starting lineup ever since Goran Dragic returned from his back injury.

“Stability helps a lot,” Wade said. “Even going into these last games, if we can have a consistent starting lineup, when you’re used to playing with guys, you get to know tendencies and all these different things and small things like that help. With Goran being back at the point, it helps because I know what he likes and what he likes to do, and I know what I can do.”

— Wade is averaging 7.2 points in the fourth quarter this season. It’s the highest average in the NBA. LeBron James is second at 7.0 points followed by Isaiah Thomas (6.6) and Carmelo Anthony (6.5).

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