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Mario Chalmers — now fully recovered from an offseason high ankle sprain that lingered for months — had four assists in the first 4½ minutes of the second quarter, three of them in a 1-minute span, and nodded or pointed knowingly to the scorer who was set up by his pass every time.

But the theme throughout the evening for Miami was clearly defense.

Detroit scored only nine points — matching a season low — in the third quarter, shooting 4 of 22. Wade only played 3½ minutes in the third and nearly outscored the Pistons himself, getting seven points in that short stint.

The Pistons‘ previous season low for scoring was 78; they didn’t come close to that against a Miami team that came in allowing 94.4 points per game.

Detroit got 31 points from its starters, the eighth-lowest total by a Piston starting five in the last 20 seasons. The last time Detroit’s first-stringers scored fewer than 31 in a game was against Cleveland on April 16, 2008, when they combined for only 13 — in a game where they only played one quarter.

They were out there far longer Wednesday.

Didn’t matter. Miami got to rest its starters for much of the fourth quarter, a slight respite before the challenge of Cleveland.

“We will be tested tomorrow,” Spoelstra said. “Physically, emotionally, all the above.”

The Heat led 54-42 at the break, and that was after just a one-point half from Wade, who played only 9 minutes before intermission because of foul trouble.

His third was an offensive foul drawn by the Pistons‘ Tracy McGrady — who may have been a bit of a target by Wade and James.

McGrady was quoted earlier this week saying Wade and James are “two guys that don’t mix” and that “they just don’t complement each other.”

Wade heard about the quotes and said he wasn’t bothered; James wasn’t aware of McGrady’s criticisms until Wade commented about them on Monday night.

So maybe it was a coincidence that, on the first play of the second quarter — McGrady’s first appearance of the night — James drove right at him, drawing a foul call only 4 seconds into the period. And when Wade had the chance with 9 minutes left in the half, he went full steam ahead at McGrady as well, getting called for the offensive foul.

Wade wound up scoring 15 in the second half, and he and James got to share a couple laughs on the bench as the final minutes ticked away.

Now, on to Cleveland — and a scene perhaps unlike any other in James‘ career.

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