The Detroit Pistons can match the franchise record for victories in a season and move one step closer to securing home-court advantage throughout the playoffs when they host LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Pistons are one victory shy of the 1988-89 team that finished 63-19 and won the first of back-to-back NBA championships. Detroit has already clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and is trying to hold off San Antonio and Dallas for the best record in the league.
The 1988-89 team also holds the record for home wins, going 37-4. This year’s squad has won 21 of its last 22 at The Palace of Auburn Hills and is 35-3 there this season.
The Pistons beat Indiana 98-73 on Sunday for their fifth straight win at home.
“All of our guys, we sense what’s coming,” Detroit coach Flip Saunders said. “We know what’s going to come here in two weeks, and you have to have an edge. You have to not only have an edge, but from an individual standpoint, you want your game and the things you do to be at top form.”
Detroit dominated the Pacers for three quarters. The Pistons grabbed the lead 13 seconds into the second quarter and didn’t relinquish it the rest of the game. Three bench players scored in double figures, Ben Wallace grabbed a season-high 22 rebounds and the Pistons held Indiana to 36 percent shooting.
“When we come out with that type of focus and energy, it’s tough for teams to beat us,” said Wallace, who grabbed 20 or more rebounds for the third time this season. “When we play like that, we make it look easy.”
Cleveland, which has already secured the fourth seed in the East, won for the 11th time in 12 games when James hit a jumper with 0.5 seconds left to beat New Orleans 103-101 on Monday night.
“That last shot is exactly what we want. We wanted to spread the ball and we wanted No. 23 to make a play,” Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. “I don’t care what he does with the ball because I know nine times out of 10, he’s going to make the play to win the ballgame.”
Cleveland might look to rest James more in the final five games. He is averaging 42.9 minutes, second-most in the NBA.
“But when we get into a game like this, I want to play,” said James, who scored 32 points to snap his nine-game streak of scoring at least 35. “Games like this I want to be in down the stretch because I feel like I can make plays for our team.”
Center Zydrunas Ilgauskas sat out his third straight game with a sprained right ankle but may be back for Wednesday’s contest.
Detroit has won 12 of the last 14 at home against Cleveland.
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