Thursday , Jun , 01 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

NBA Playoff Notebook: Don’t count out the Pistons

(Sports Network) – Until the Detroit Pistons lose their fourth game in a
best-of-seven series, they are a very dangerous team and cannot be counted
out.

The Pistons proved once again that they are extremely tough when their
backs are against the wall. Down 3-1 in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference
finals, the top-seeded Pistons defeated the second-seeded Miami Heat, 91-78,
at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Game 5 of the set. Detroit is 3-0 in
elimination games this postseason and 11-2 in its last 13 games when facing a
postseason exit.

“Right now we’re approaching every game like a tournament,” said Detroit
center Ben Wallace after Game 5’s win.” You lose and you go home. That’s how
we try and take it, just one game at a time, one possession at a time, try to
get one stop at a time and execute on the offensive end. That’s how we came
out and approached the game tonight, and that’s how we’re going to approach
every game from here on out.

Tayshaun Prince scored a career-playoff high 29 and grabbed seven rebounds in
Game 5’s victory for the Pistons, while Richard Hamilton netted 16 and pulled
down 10 boards.

The 6-9 Prince played over 43 minutes in the win and finished 11-of-17 from
the field, including 2-of-5 from beyond the arc. Prince’s excellent
performance helped force a Game 6, which will be played at AmericanAirlines
Arena.

“The pressure is on them and us because we don’t want to go home after Game 6,
so I think the pressure is both ways,” said Prince. Like I said before,
they’ve been playing great at home. It’s going to be a tough situation.

Chauncey Billups finished with 17 points and 10 assists, while Antonio McDyess
came off the bench and scored 12 and collected six boards in 18-plus minutes
of court time. McDyess was 5-for-5 from the floor.

Detroit still had some trouble offensively, as it made 42.9 percent (33-
for-77) of its shots from the field, including just 13.3 percent (2-of-15)
from three-point range. The Pistons outrebounded the Heat, 42-40, and forced
Miami into committing 14 turnovers.

All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal were not able to get the Heat into
their first NBA Finals in franchise history. Wade scored a team-high 23 points
and dished out four assists, while Shaq contributed 19 points and six rebounds
Miami, which is 7-1 at home in this year’s playoffs.

O’Neal and Wade have had three chances to get the Heat into the NBA Finals,
and have not been able to get their squad over the hump yet. In last year’s
playoffs, Miami led Detroit 3-2 in the conference finals and ended up losing
Game 6 at The Palace and Game 7 at home.

“We did what we had to do,” said Wade after Game 5’s loss. “We’ll go back to
Game 6. We need one game to win. That’s all we’ve got to do back at home. We
know what we have to do. We got the split up here the first time so we’re in
the position we need to be in, and come out and give it all in Game 6 and see
what happens.”

Finishing off the Pistons is a very tough task for the Heat, who have lost
three of their last five contests when they have the chance to
eliminate their opponent from the postseason.

Detroit has been down before and always seems to rise to the occasion. Billups
and Hamilton are clutch players, while Prince, Rasheed Wallace and Ben Wallace
are winners and will do whatever it takes to keep their team alive.

If any team can fight back from a 3-1 deficit against Shaq and Wade, it’s the
Pistons.

DET MIA