Monday , Apr , 25 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

NBA Playoff Notebook: Detroit has been waiting for this

(Sports Network) – The defending world champion Detroit Pistons showed why
they are still the team to beat in the Eastern Conference, as they defeated
the Philadelphia 76ers, 106-85, on Saturday at The Palace of Auburn Hills in
the opener of the best-of-seven first-round series.

Detroit, which stunned the Los Angeles Lakers in five games in last year’s NBA
Finals, had a rough start in Game 1, as it fell behind by as many as 16 in the
first quarter and trailed 28-16 after 12 minutes of action. However, Antonio
McDyess came off the bench for the Pistons and gave them a big lift in the
second frame, as he scored 11 points to help the home team grab a 48-46
advantage at the break.

“There wasn’t any concern, but we knew we were just a little bit too excited,”
said Detroit guard Chauncey Billups about his teams slow start to Game 1.
“We’ve been waiting on this day for a long, long time and we just came out a
little too excited. When we get down early in games, by 15 or 17, we always
say, ‘Listen, let’s try to cut it to seven or eight in a certain amount of
time.’ We always know we’re going to keep fighting.

“We know we’re going to keep fighting and shots will start falling. We just
settled down, relaxed a little bit and turned the game back to our favor.”

The second half was all Pistons, as they outscored Philadelphia, 32-24, to
take a 10-point lead heading into the fourth frame. Detroit dominated the
final 12 minutes of the contest and left the building with a 21-point victory.

Rasheed Wallace shot 11-of-20 from the field, including 4-of-7 from three-
point range, and finished with a team-high 29 points and 10 rebounds in 34
minutes of action. Wallace played a big role in Detroit finding its game after
falling behind in the opening quarter. The Pistons’ playoff savvy showed
during their comeback.

“Turnovers. They jumped out of the gate early,” said Wallace after Detroit’s
win in Game 1. “(Allen Iverson is) going to be himself. We knew he was
going to get his shots and points. (Kyle) Korver was hitting some threes,
(Andre) Iguodala was running the break and (Samuel) Dalembert was getting some
follow-ups and some dunks. We were a little out of sync, but we had to go
ahead and clamp it down. They jumped out of the gate big on us; that probably
rattled both teams but we know what we can do.”

The 30-year-old McDyess, who was playing in just the fifth playoff game of his
career, ended with 15 points on 7-of-9 from the floor. He also pulled down
eight rebounds in 21 minutes of court time.

“(McDyess) was great,” said Billups of his teammate’s play. “He made every
shot, it seemed like he got every rebound and they couldn’t guard him. That’s
the reason why we brought him here; we felt like we had three starters down
low — three All-Stars. He’s showing people the reason why he came here.”

Detroit forward Tayshaun Prince showed why he is known as a big-time playoff
player, as he ended with 23 points and seven rebounds in 47 minutes of action.
Billups, who was the MVP of the 2004 NBA Finals, did not have a great game but
still scored 11 points, while his backcourt mate Richard Hamilton netted 17.

Even though they were outplayed in the first quarter by Philadelphia, the
Pistons knew not to panic and were able to catch their breath and start
playing their tenacious defense which creates offense and easy baskets for
them.

All-Star Ben Wallace only scored seven points, but he grabbed 10 rebounds and
blocked a game-high seven shots for the Pistons, who outrebounded the Sixers,
48-35.

“The one thing is that you know you are going to be beat on the dribble
penetration by him (Allen Iverson), and you have to have a second line of
defense to step up,” said Detroit head coach Larry Brown. “Any time you can
get a guy who can come over and block or affect a shot it makes it easier for
everybody. He (Ben Wallace) made some incredible plays. I think the only way
to play against Philadelphia is for your big guys to be mobile.”

The Pistons have the ability to score and they play the type of defense that
win championships. They showed Philadelphia and the rest of the league that it
is going to take a lot more than 12 minutes of great basketball to beat them.

“We just have to go out there and play,” said Rasheed Wallace. “There’s no
pressure on us. I’m more than happy you guys picked Miami or San Antonio, we
like playing on the backburner.”

The Pistons are built to win in the playoffs. They have the right formula and
their play shows it. Detroit has been waiting all season long for this time of
the year.

DET PHI