Pistons Begin Preperations For Boston

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) --The Detroit Pistons resumed practicing Sunday evening because they finally knew who else was in the Eastern Conference finals.
Detroit started a workout just as the Celtics were finishing off the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Pistons took two days off, including Saturday, after advancing last Tuesday to their sixth straight conference final.
Boston won an NBA-high 66 games during the regular season and Detroit had 59 wins, giving the Celtics home-court advantage starting with Game 1 on Tuesday night.
The Celtics will also be at home Thursday night before the series shifts to The Palace for Games 3-4 on Saturday and Monday nights.
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 the 1985 and 1991 playoffs with Detroit winning three matchups, advancing to the NBA finals for the first time in 1988 and winning back-to-back titles in 1989.
Boston advanced past Detroit in 2002 en route to its last appearance in the conference finals and Paul Pierce of the Celtics is the only current player who played in that series.
The Celtics lead the all-time series in the playoffs 20-19, winning 13 games at home and losing 13 games in Detroit.
Boston lost its first game at home during the regular season to the Pistons, then won the next two meetings.
Detroit beat the Celtics 87-85 on Dec. 19 as Chauncey Billups made two free throws with a tenth of a second left, giving him 12 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter.
"It's a good lesson for our guys," Boston coach Doc Rivers said after the game. "In shootaround I had to get on them today about paying attention. One of the things we kept saying is 'Chauncey Billups pump fakes."'
Boston drafted Billups No. 3 overall in 1997 and he bounced around the league -- including 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.
Boston had won its first 12 home games, its most since a club-record 17 by the 1957-58 squad.
The Celtics won the rematch 92-85 on Jan. 5 at The Palace in one of the top regular-season matchups in years.
"Our players needed this," Rivers said. "We needed to return the favor."
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.
For the first time since 1981, two teams entered a game on January 5 with a combined 54 wins. For the first time since 2000, two teams played with each riding at least an eight-game winning streak.
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.
"They're a little more happy than we were when we won our game at their place," Billups said then. "It was just a regular game for us with two good teams playing. They were kind of playing like it was the Super Bowl.
"There was probably a little more at stake for them and their psyche than it was for us."
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."
Rivers wasn't so sure about that two months ago.
"I don't want to think about that," he said. "But the way I look at it is if we do see them again, it's only a good thing."

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