Business as usual for Pistons
(Sports Network) – Any Eastern Conference team having dreams of reaching the
NBA Finals must take care of business in Detroit first in order to achieve
the ultimate goal of a world championship.
The Pistons killed two birds with one stone in Wednesday’s victory over the
Orlando Magic, having captured homecourt advantage in the East playoffs and
their third straight division title — the fifth in six years and eighth since
the 1987-88 campaign.
San Antonio is the only team with more division crowns (10) since then.
Head coach Flip Saunders now has to focus on what team will capture the eighth
and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Detroit could possibly
square off with Orlando, New Jersey, Indiana or even Philadelphia in the
opening round of the playoffs.
The Magic, who got swept by Detroit in four games this season, are currently
the eighth seed in the standings.
With four games left on the regular-season schedule, there is no doubt
Saunders will cut back the minutes of his starters. Forwards Jason Maxiell and
Ronald Dupree and center Nazr Mohammed are the top candidates to see more
“Some guys we might play more,” Saunders said on the team’s website. “The one
thing we do want to do is make sure our guys maintain rhythm, so I don’t want
to do anything to take them out of rhythm. I’ll look at everything today on
the flight out and look at our practice schedules. Our main guys aren’t
going to be up over 30 minutes, I know that.”
It’s best that Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Chris Webber, Tayshaun
Prince and Rasheed Wallace get as much rest as possible. This isn’t the same
64-win squad from last season, so its vital the top five are healthy and
relaxed come playoff time.
Hamilton leads the Pistons in scoring with 20.0 points per game, and has
reached double digits in scoring over 69 of 72 games played this season.
Detroit is in the postseason for the sixth straight year and owns a 53-40
record in the playoffs since the 2001-02 season.
The Pistons have won three straight and eight of their last 10 games
overall. They will take a trip to Toronto on Friday for a showdown with the
Raptors at the Air Canada Centre.
Only Philadelphia, the Raptors and Boston are left on the slate.