Heat look back at Detroit memories during final visit to the Palace of Auburn Hills

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — You have to go back to Dec. 20, 1988 for the first time the Heat played at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

The Heat lost to the Pistons that night 116-100 to fall to 1-20 in their inaugural season. A lot has changed since then and more change is coming, as the Pistons next season are moving from the suburbs to downtown Detroit to play in the new Little Caesars Arena.

Tuesday night marked the end of an era, as the Heat made their final visit to the Palace of the season.

Heat’s Dwyane Wade consoles Udonis Haslem after Haslem shot a short jumper that missed everything in the fourth quarter.

“It just shows you that nothing stops change,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It starts to make you feel a little bit old. Things change and you don’t expect it, but it’s inevitable.”

As long as the Heat have been playing at the Palace, it’s the memories from their playoff matchups against the Pistons that stick out. Detroit eliminated Miami in a back-and-forth seven-game series in the 2005 Eastern Conference Finals, but the Heat bounced back to take out the Pistons in six games in the 2006 Eastern Conference Finals on their way to the first NBA championship in franchise history.

“Those Eastern Conference playoff battles,” Spoelstra said when asked what he remembers most from playing at the Palace. “There’s nothing like that. There are some buildings that are just different. Detroit back in the heyday, it was a great rivalry. That crowd was ready. They were loud, they were nasty. Those were fun battles.”

Udonis Haslem, the only remaining Heat player from those playoff series against the Pistons, credits those matchups against Ben Wallace, Chauncey Billups, Rasheed Wallace, Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince with helping Miami turn into champions in 2006.

“I will always remember those games because those were some of the most competitive games I have ever been a part of,” Haslem said.

“I was young and naive, and you think it’s always going to be like that so you don’t cherish that kind of competition. I’m always going to have those memories. We found out a lot about ourselves, who we were. The Pistons helped teach us to be champions.”

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