|Rivalry renewed: Pistons-Celtics Part 8|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 18 May 2008 15:28|
``We still got that fire under our butt,'' Rasheed Wallace said Sunday night.
The Pistons resumed practicing after taking two days off, starting a workout just as the Boston Celtics were finishing off the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Boston won an NBA-high 66 games during the regular season and Detroit was second with 59 wins, giving the Celtics home-court advantage starting with Game 1 on Tuesday night.
``I guess it's what everybody wanted,'' said Detroit's Tayshaun Prince, heading into his featured matchup with Paul Pierce, who scored 41 in Game 7 against the Cavs.
The Celtics will also be at home Thursday night before the series shifts to The Palace for Games 3 and 4 on Saturday and Monday nights. Detroit did not have home-court advantage the last two times it won the conference finals in 2004 and 2005.
Pistons point guard Chauncey Billups said his right hamstring is 100 percent healthy. He was sidelined for the last two-plus games of the second round against the Orlando Magic.
``I'm ready to go,'' Billups said.
Boston and Detroit have met seven times in the playoffs, with the Celtics winning four times, most memorably in 1987 when they made their last NBA finals appearance.
In that matchup, Larry Bird famously stole an inbounds pass from Isiah Thomas and passed to Dennis Johnson for a game-winning layup in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals. The Celtics won Game 7 after Detroit's Adrian Dantley and Vinnie Johnson knocked each other out of the game with on a head-colliding play.
The Celtics and Pistons met five times between 1985 and 1991, with Detroit winning three matchups, advancing to the NBA finals for the first time in 1988 and winning back-to-back titles in 1989-90.
``It's good for the league and the ratings with all the historical battles that took place, but we're trying to make our own legacies,'' Pistons reserve Lindsey Hunter said. ``We're trying to get another title and be considered a dynasty.''
Pistons president Joe Dumars said he wasn't interested in reminiscing about his playing days with the Bad Boys against the Bird-led Celtics because those stories are irrelevant to his players.
``These guys have no history with the Boston Celtics,'' Dumars said. ``For them, it's the team that is standing between us and the NBA finals.''
Boston advanced past Detroit in 2002 en route to its last appearance in the conference finals and Pierce is the only current player who played in that series.
The Pistons played in the next five conference finals, winning the NBA championship four years ago.
``We know what's at stake and they know what's at stake,'' Wallace said. ``The only difference is we've done it before.''
Boston's first regular-season home loss was to the Pistons, but the Celtics won the next two meetings.
Detroit beat the Celtics 87-85 on Dec. 19 as Billups made two free throws with 0.1 seconds left, giving him 12 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter.
Boston drafted Billups No. 3 overall in 1997 and he bounced around the league - including a stop in Minnesota, where he was a teammate of Kevin Garnett - before becoming an All-Star and MVP of the 2004 NBA finals with the Pistons.
``Chauncey's one of the best clutch players in the league,'' Garnett has said.
The Celtics won the rematch 92-85 on Jan. 5 at The Palace. The Celtics extended their winning streak, which started after losing to Detroit at home, to nine games and ended Detroit's run at 11.
Boston and Detroit entered that game with a combined winning percentage of .844, the third highest in the shot clock era after at least 30 games. Rookie Glen Davis scored a career-high 20 points, becoming the first player other than Boston's Big Three of Garnett, Pierce and Ray Allen to lead the team in scoring.
The Celtics beat Detroit 90-78 on March 6 at home, becoming the first team to clinch a spot in the postseason after missing it the previous two years.
``Any time you play another elite team it will be a playoff atmosphere. All three felt like that,'' Billups said after the third and final regular-season matchup. ``It was very physical. That's what we like to do. That's great basketball and all games should be like that.''