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Eastern Conference Finals

May 18, 2003|Mark Heisler

NO. 1 DETROIT

vs.

NO. 2 NEW JERSEY

* Season series: Pistons, 2-1.

* The skinny: The Pistons' survival, after opening the playoffs with Ben Wallace coming off an ankle injury, going down, 3-1 to Orlando, then losing point guard Chauncey Billups for four of the first five games of the Philadelphia series, is amazing, suggesting they're as tough as they are anonymous. They're resourceful, too. Against the 76ers, little-used rookie Tayshaun Prince became their primary option in crunch time, averaging 13 points off the bench, winning one game and making key baskets in two other victories. Jason Kidd and the oncoming tandem of Kenyon Martin (averaging 18.9 in the playoffs) and Richard Jefferson (16.4) make the Nets the hottest team in the East (8-2 this postseason). They're better offensively (102 a game in the playoffs to the Pistons' 92) and they got six days' rest by sweeping Boston while the Pistons were busy with the 76ers through Friday.

* Prediction: Even for the East, the Pistons would be a modest entry, but this is as far as they get. Nets, 4-2.

-- Mark Heisler

Schedule

Best of seven (Times PDT)

Today...New Jersey at Detroit, 10:30 a.m.

Tuesday...New Jersey at Detroit, 5 p.m.

Thursday...Detroit at New Jersey, 5:30 p.m.

Saturday...Detroit at New Jersey, TBA

May 26...New Jersey at Detroit, 5 p.m.*

May 28...Detroit at New Jersey, 5 p.m.*

May 30...New Jersey at Detroit, 5 p.m.*

* if necessary

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