NBA News and Notes May 24

NBA News and Notes May 24

What do Celtics have to do to get road win in Detroit?
By ASSOCIATED PRESS

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -The Boston Celtics simply watched film and talked about adjustments the day after losing at home for the first time in the playoffs.

''Sometimes, I think you need a mental break,'' Boston coach Doc Rivers said Friday. ''So, we're taking one and we'll be fresh.''

At this point, it's time for Boston to try anything to stop its skid on the road.

If the Celtics don't, they're going home to watch the NBA finals on TV.

The Detroit Pistons ended Boston's home winning streak at nine with a 103-97 victory that tied the Eastern Conference finals at one game apiece.

Now, the NBA's top-seeded team will have to take a game on the road - or else.

''If we're going to win this series, we've got to protect the home for the rest of the series and try to get one on the road,'' Paul Pierce said.

Boston's first chance comes Saturday night at The Palace.

''People are going to say, 'Well, they haven't won on the road. Can they win on the road?' They're going to come in with a great focus,'' Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. ''We have to have the same focus and hope the adrenaline of the crowd will help us play with even more energy.''

If the Celtics lose, they will be the first team to start 0-7 on the road in the playoffs to break a tie for the unwanted distinction with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1971 and the Miami Heat in 2004.

''I don't think it's really bothering us, like, psychologically,'' Pierce insisted Thursday night after Boston fell just short of equaling an NBA record.

The Celtics were a few shots and stops away in Game 2 from matching a league mark by winning their first 10 postseason games at home. Six teams started 10-0 at home in the playoffs, including the 1986 Celtics and 1990 Pistons before both of those teams won titles.

Detroit has been pretty good at home, too, winning five straight since losing the postseason opener a month ago to the Philadelphia 76ers.

''It's going to be crazy,'' Richard Hamilton said. ''We've got the best fans in the NBA. Everybody knows about the Palace at Auburn Hills.''

Everybody also knows about Boston's Big Three and Detroit's true team.

Pierce scored 26, Kevin Garnett had 24 points and Ray Allen had a breakout game by scoring 20 of his 25 points in the second half.

''Their three main guys, for the first time in the playoffs, all played well together. Very well,'' Saunders said. ''When we play well, usually it's a team effort and a lot of people are involved. Last night was a prime example of that.''

While Boston's trio is going through the rigors of the playoffs for the first time, Detroit's nucleus is doing it for a fifth year in a row and a few key players have been together in the postseason in six straight conference finals.

The four Pistons who helped win the 2004 title each answered Boston's clutch shots in the final minute.

Hamilton made a mid-range jumper, Chauncey Billups scored on a reverse layup off an inbounds play, Rasheed Wallace had a free throw and Tayshaun Prince made two at the line.

Before that decisive stretch, two more Pistons contributed as Antonio McDyess made a jumper midway through the fourth and rookie Rodney Stuckey had six of his 13 points in 3-minute span early in the final quarter.

''What makes Detroit good is you can't really hone in on one guy,'' Rivers said. ''Obviously in the two previous series we've had LeBron (James) and Joe Johnson. Even though they had players around them, clearly they were the focal point.

''(The Pistons) have five for sure, and six guys on certain nights they can go to.''

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 24

Boston at Detroit, Game 3
By Brian Edwards

If Detroit advances to the NBA Finals, watch out for this team in its second road game of the series. Just as they did in the two previous rounds against Philadelphia and Orlando, the Pistons bounced back from losing their first road game to win at Boston in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Six players scored in double figures, including Richard Hamilton’s team-high 25 points, as Detroit evened the series at 1-1 with a 103-97 victory as a 4½-point underdog. The Pistons hooked up money-line backers (my hand is raised) with an outstanding plus 170 payout.

As for the total, the 200 combined points obliterated the 173-point tally.

Now the series shifts to the Palace of Auburn Hills for Saturday’s Game 3 at 8:30 p.m. Eastern. ESPN will provide the telecast.

Most Las Vegas betting shops have installed Detroit (68-27 straight up, 53-41 against the spread) as a five-point ‘chalk’ with a total of 175. If you like Boston (SU, ATS) to bounce back and win its first road game of these playoffs, a rich plus 200 return (risk $100 to win $200) is available.

In my preview of Game 2, I explained that bettors shouldn’t expect Rasheed Wallace to struggle in the rest of the series like he did in Game 1. I also noted that the Pistons seemingly go as ‘Sheed goes, not necessarily as Chauncey Billups performs.

Although Wallace was in foul trouble during the first half and played limited minutes, he made his presence felt in the second half. When the Celtics briefly took the lead midway through the third quarter, it was Wallace that knocked down a 3-ball from the left wing to give the Pistons a 60-58 advantage.

They never trailed again.

With Detroit leading by six with nine seconds left in the third, Wallace drained another triple to put the Pistons up 78-69 going into the final stanza.

Wallace’s numbers won’t blow you away by any means. He finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds. But his buckets were clutch, including the dagger from the free-throw line with 10 seconds remaining that sealed the deal.

Another huge contributor for Flip Saunders’ squad was reserve guard Rodney Stuckey. The rookie provided instant offense off the bench, scoring 13 points to go with three assists and a pair of steals in just 17 minutes of play.

Billups, who clearly wasn’t himself in Game 1 as he played for the first time since sustaining a hamstring injury in Game 3 of the Orlando series, appeared to be back to almost 100 percent. The former NBA Finals MVP scored 19 points and produced a 7/0 assist-turnover ratio.

We can’t underestimate the play of Antonio McDyess, either. Remember, McDyess joined the Pistons the year after they beat the Lakers in the NBA Finals, so he’s still in search of an elusive title ring. He played like he wants one in Game 2, scoring 17 points to go with eight rebounds and three steals.

On the bright side for the Celtics, Ray Allen snapped out of an abysmal 6-for-37 shooting slump from 3-point land. The UConn product erupted for 25 points in just 30 minutes of action.

The other members of Boston’s Big Three also played well. Paul Pierce had a game-high 26 points while Kevin Garnett finished with 25 points and 13 boards. However, Doc Rivers got next to nothing from his remaining cast.

Rondo nearly had a triple-double (10 points, nine rebounds and eight assists), but the box score doesn’t always tell the story. All of a sudden, he clearly had zero confidence in his jumper. Not only did Rondo miss seven of his nine shots, but he also passed up a pair of open looks late in the shot clock on possessions that ended in shot-clock violations.

Once again, Rivers elected to go with Eddie House in the rotation ahead of veteran Sam Cassell. Unlike in Game 1, this ploy didn’t work as House misfired on all three shot attempts.

As we mentioned previously, Boston is 0-6 both SU and ATS on the road in the playoffs. For whatever reasons, the Celtics’ season-lone road success (they still maintain a 27-19 spread record) has completely disappeared in the post-season.

As for Detroit, it lost its first home playoffs game to the 76ers. Since then, the Pistons are 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS at home. They are 39-8 SU and 30-17 ATS at home for the season.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--The ‘under’ is 17-8 in Detroit’s last 25 games.

---The ‘under’ is 53-44 overall for the Celtics, but they have seen less consistency from the ‘under’ on the road (24-23).

--The ‘under’ is 53-41 overall for Detroit, 27-19 in its home assignments.

--My guess is that Cassell will be the first Boston player off the bench in Game 3. My prediction is that the veteran will respond and give the Celtics a huge lift. If the C’s want to win in Motown, he (or someone else off the bench) had better produce.

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 24

Saturday NBA Playoff Gameday

Detroit is the place to be Saturday night, as the Stanley Cup final gets underway between the Red Wings and Penguins, while in the NBA the Eastern Conference final resumes with Game 3 between the Celtics and Pistons.

Boston Celtics at Detroit Pistons


The Pistons became the first team to solve the Celtics at home in the postseason on Thursday night after upsetting Boston 103-97 as a 4.5-point underdog. That loss was Boston's first at home in the playoffs and snapped their 15-game winning streak at TD Northbank Garden.

Richard Hamilton made up for a disappointing Game 1 by leading Detroit with 25 points. Chauncey Billups also bounced back after showing a little rust since returning from injury in the series opener, netting 19 points and handing out seven assists. The Celtics' big three all delivered, but it wasn?t enough to secure a victory. Paul Pierce led the way with 26 points, Ray Allen chipped in with 25 points and Kevin Garnett added 24 points and 13 rebounds. Rajon Rondo also had a solid all-round game for Boston with 10 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in a losing effort.

The Celtics could be in trouble heading to the Palace of Auburn Hills unless they can reverse their fortunes from the earlier rounds of the playoffs. Boston is 0-6 on the road through the postseason so far and would fall into a deep 3-1 hole if that trend continues.

The Pistons are a 4.5-point home favorite in Game 3.

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 24

NBA Today

Boston at Detroit (8:30 p.m. EDT). The Pistons' win in Boston on Thursday tied the Eastern Conference finals at 1-1 and has given them home-court advantage for the rest of the series against a team that hasn't won on the road yet.

STAR

-Lamar Odom, Lakers, scored 20 points with 12 rebounds in a 101-71 win over San Antonio for a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals.

IN CONTROL

Kobe Bryant scored 22 points, Lamar Odom added 20 points and 12 rebounds, and the Lakers took command late in the second quarter to rout San Antonio 101-71 Friday night for a 2-0 lead over the Spurs. Games 3 and 4 in the best-of-seven series will be played in San Antonio, where the Spurs have a 6-0 record in the postseason and have won 20 of their last 22 games.

SPEAKING

``The old adage is you just won the games on your home court, which is the important part, and extended the series to six games. We know that. Now, nothing happens until we win on their court. And someone wins on the other team's court.'' - Lakers coach Phil Jackson after a 101-71 win over the Spurs on Friday night gave the Lakers a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals. Both teams are undefeated at home in the playoffs heading into Sunday's Game 3 at San Antonio.

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 24

NBA PLAYOFFS

EASTERN CONFERENCE

(1) Boston (9-7, 6-10 ATS) at (2) Detroit (9-4, 8-5 ATS)


The Pistons stole homecourt advantage from the Celtics with a road win on Thursday and now look to go up 2-1 and extend Boston’s postseason road woes as these rivals battle in Game 3 of their best-of-seven series inside the Palace at Auburn Hills.

Detroit snapped Boston’s 15-game home win streak with a 103-97 victory as a 4½-point underdog in Game 2. The Pistons shot 49.3 percent from the floor and had six players score in double figures, led by Richard Hamilton’s 25-point performance. Meanwhile, the Celtics shot 48.6 percent from the floor, finished with a 39-31 rebounding edge, outscored the Pistons 36-24 in the paint and got a combined 75 points from the Big Three of Kevin Garnett (24 points), Paul Pierce (26) and Ray Allen (25), but it wasn’t enough, as Boston lost a home game for the first time since March 24.

The Celtics are just 1-6 ATS in their last seven overall while the Pistons are 7-3 ATS in their last 10, including 3-1 ATS at home. Also, Thursday marked the first time in these playoffs that a road team won a game in which the Celtics participated. Boston is 0-6 SU and ATS on the highway in this postseason.

The road team is now 8-2 ATS in the last 10 meetings between these two, and the ‘dog has cashed in 11 of the last 15 series clashes. Boston still leads this season’s series 3-2 SU and ATS, and the straight-up winner is on a 6-0 ATS run in this rivalry. One piece of good news for the Celtics: They’re 4-0 ATS in their last four visits to the Palace, including a 92-85 win as a two-point underdog on Jan. 5, the only regular-season meeting in Motown.

The Pistons are 13-4 SU and 12-5 ATS in their last 17 games going back to the regular season, and they are on additional ATS runs of 6-1 on one day of rest, 4-0 on Saturdays and 5-1 as a favorite. On the downside, Detroit is only 2-12 ATS in its last 14 conference finals games, including a current 1-7 ATS freefall that dates to last year’s series against Cleveland, in which Flip Saunders’ squad failed to cash in all six games (2-4 SU).

The Celtics are on positive pointspread rolls of 19-7 on Saturday, 19-8 as an underdog, 40-17 as a road ‘dog and 5-0 as a ‘dog between five and 10½ points. On the negative side, though, Boston is on ATS slides of 1-6 on one day of rest, 1-5 in the conference finals, 0-6 on the road, 1-5 in conference semifinal action and 1-4 following an ATS loss.

Thursday’s Game 2 flew past the 173-point total, ending a 5-0 “under” streak in this rivalry. Still, eight of the last 10 meetings have stayed low.

Additionally, for Detroit, the under is on tears of 17-8 overall (8-5 in the playoffs), 19-8 against the East, 14-5 as a favorite, 12-4 following an ATS win, 19-9 against the Atlantic Division and 19-8-1 in the conference finals. Finally, for Boston, the under is 5-2 in its last seven conference finals games and 17-8 in its last 25 versus the Central Division.

ATS ADVANTAGE: DETROIT and UNDER

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