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NBA FINALS: PISTONS

Pistons

June 06, 2004|Jim Rhode

EASTERN CONFERENCE FIRST ROUND

Detroit wins series, 4-1

at Detroit 108, Milwaukee 82

Milwaukee 92, at Detroit 88

Detroit 95, at Milwaukee 85

Detroit 109, at Milwaukee 92

at Detroit 91, Milwaukee 77

If it's the postseason, then it must be a rerun of the "Fresh Prince" -- Tayshaun, that is. Last year, Prince averaged 9.4 points and 25.5 minutes a game in three playoff series after a cameo regular-season role in which he averaged 3.3 points and 10.4 minutes. Against the Bucks, Prince showed he wasn't a one-hit playoff wonder, taking his game to higher ground -- 17.6 points and 7.6 rebounds a game. Said Milwaukee Coach Terry Porter: "He was probably the X-factor." Detroit Coach Larry Brown further heaped praise on Prince: "He was probably the most valuable player in the series." Don't forget the Motor City defense: the Bucks were held almost 13 points below their regular-season average.

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EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS

Detroit wins series, 4-3

at Detroit 78, New Jersey 56

at Detroit 95, New Jersey 80

at New Jersey 82, Detroit 64

at New Jersey 94, Detroit 79

New Jersey 127, at Detroit 120, 3 OT

Detroit 81, at New Jersey 75

at Detroit 90, New Jersey 69

While the Pistons were busy defending Jason Kidd and Co., Brown was busy defending former player and protege Byron Scott, who was stunningly ousted in midseason after leading the Nets to the NBA Finals in consecutive years. Brown even belittled Scott's replacement, roll-out-the-ball-boy Lawrence Frank. On the court, the Pistons were at their knock-down, drag-out best in Games 1 and 2, and the Nets were at their baby-we-were--born-to-run best in Games 3, 4 and 5. But after Brian Scalabrine had his 15 minutes of fame in the triple-overtime victory, the New Jersey offense hit the skids on the series turnpike and the wheels came off in Game 7 as Kidd threw in a no-points-scored clunker.

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EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

Detroit wins series, 4-2

at Indiana 78, Detroit 74

Detroit 72, at Indiana 67

at Detroit 85, Indiana 78

Indiana 83, at Detroit 68

at Detroit 83, Indiana 65

Detroit 69, at Indiana 65

All the hoopla before the series surrounded Indiana Coach Rick Carlisle, who was facing the team that dumped him after winning consecutive division titles and hired Brown seemingly minutes later. That story line wore on as well as Craig Sager's jackets, as did the Pacers' tiptoe-through-the-defense routine. Game 2 was a SWAT-athon for the Pistons, including Prince's block of ages on Reggie Miller. Once the Pacers' leading scorer, Jermaine O'Neal, went one for the Gimper, it was only a matter of the Pistons bringing down the hammer, which they did with such force that ESPN's Jack Ramsay proclaimed them the greatest defensive team of all time. Fuel for the Laker fire?

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-- Jim Rhode

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