|Pistons set to face Ben Wallace in second round|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 29 April 2007 12:05|
Detroit has advanced to the second round of the NBA playoffs for the sixth straight year, and for the first time during the run Ben Wallace won't be wearing Pistons red, white and blue.
Wallace and the Chicago Bulls beat the Miami Heat on Sunday, pulling off a sweep of the defending NBA champions and setting up an intriguing second-round matchup.
``It's going to be exciting - no doubt,'' Detroit center Dale Davis told The Associated Press. ``You've got Ben coming back; the rivalry we have with the Bulls; and the rivalry the teams had more than 15 years ago with the Bad Boys and Michael Jordan.''
Wallace left the Pistons last summer for Chicago, which gave him a four-year, $60 million contract. That was $10 million more than Detroit was willing to pay after he led the franchise's turnaround over six seasons.
In Wallace's only game at The Palace of Auburn Hills as a Bull, he wanted anything but an apathetic reception. He got his wish.
He was greeted by a mix of jeers and cheers when he was introduced two months ago, then was booed virtually every time he touched the ball as Detroit beat Chicago for its only win in the season series.
The night before the game, Wallace had dinner with some Pistons. After the game, he walked into Detroit's locker room. He teased Chauncey Billups about his white fox coat and went into the shower area. Booming laughter could be heard outside the door.
``Those guys weren't just teammates, they were my friends,'' Wallace said after the Feb. 25 game. ``We won a championship together, but we have a bond that goes beyond basketball. We still call each other and keep up with each other. That hasn't changed.''
The Bulls wanted Wallace to help them reach the next level and he did just that, helping the franchise win a postseason series for the first time since 1998 - Jordan's final season in Chicago.
Advancing in the playoffs has become routine for the Pistons.
The 2004 NBA champions have at least made it to the second round six years in a row and are the first franchise since the Jordan-led Bulls of the early 1990s to play in four straight conference championships.
The Pistons, however, experienced something new already this postseason: a sweep.
Detroit disposed of the Orlando Magic in four games, ending with Saturday's victory for the franchise's first sweep since the Bad Boys won their second straight title in 1990.
``It's good momentum for us,'' Billups said. ``I'm proud of our team for just coming and taking care of business.''
After the Pistons won Saturday, they didn't know if Chicago or Miami would be their next opponent. Regardless of the matchup, Rasheed Wallace wasn't worried.
``We can handle just about anything,'' he said. ``I'm saying that not to be arrogant. It's just the confidence that we have in each other out there on that floor. I think we can overcome any situation put in front of us.''