Mostly Cloudy Currently: Auburn Hills, MI
Temp: 51° F
  • Game info: 8:00 pm EDT Thu May 24, 2007
  • TV: TNT, TSN
Preview | Box Score | Recap | Series Breakdown

DETROIT (AP)—The Detroit Pistons usually need contributions from every starter and a couple of reserves to win.

In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, Detroit beat the Cleveland Cavaliers with only Richard Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace consistently producing.

“It’s a positive that we won, but it’s a negative because we didn’t feel like we won,” Wallace said Wednesday. “That’s just the way that we feel, the aura that’s in our locker room.”

The bad vibe might have stemmed from Chauncey Billups’ rough night.

The point guard had only three points and a playoff-high seven turnovers— surpassing his total from the previous four games—entering the fourth quarter Monday night.

Billups said sometimes after lackluster games, watching film shows the Pistons didn’t play all that badly. Game 1 against the Cavs didn’t fall in that category, though.

“My performance taking care of the ball and trying to set the table, it was pretty bad,” he said. “But we came out with the win, and that’s all really that matters.

“Good teams win ugly games.”

Billups wasn’t alone in his struggles. Tayshaun Prince was 1-for-11 from the field, Chris Webber had one productive quarter and Antonio McDyess made only one shot off the bench.

Wallace is confident the Pistons will pull it together Thursday night when they host Game 2, but he’s not ready to make predictions. In the second round last year, Wallace said the Pistons would win Game 4 at Cleveland and they went on to lose for the first time after the bombastic forward made a “Guaran-Sheed.”

“You only can do the guarantee once a year, so don’t look for it,” Wallace said. “If I say it, I’m going to say it. If not, don’t even ask.”

The Cavs might be tired of being asked about LeBron James’ decision to pass to Donyell Marshall instead of taking a shot in the final seconds of the series opener. But they’re not letting the situation bother them too much.

Marshall was in the same spot on the floor with 2 seconds on the shot clock during Wednesday’s practice. He made the shot and his teammates rushed onto the court.

“That’s how we are. We joke like that,” Marshall said. “That’s how we stay loose. We take something negative into a positive. We’re going to use that for motivation in Game 2.”

With both teams off for two days between games, Cleveland coach Mike Brown expects the playoff-tested Pistons to play much differently in the second game of the series.

“They’re going to make adjustments because they’re a great team,” Brown said. “They’re going to get to a point where they’re going to get comfortable and they’re going to be able to pick us apart.”

The Cavs played a part in Billups’ shoddy performance. They trapped him with two players just past midcourt, a tactic Billups hadn’t seen from them previously. But Brown isn’t sure that will work against the All-Star guard again.

If Cleveland does trap Billups, Detroit coach Flip Saunders wants him to learn from his mistakes.

“He held onto the ball maybe one dribble too long,” Saunders said. “Chauncey just needs to make quicker decisions, which he did in the third quarter, and then when other guys started making plays.”

Perhaps not coincidentally, that’s when Webber was most effective. He scored eight of his 10 points in the third quarter, making 4-of-8 shots. McDyess was held to a playoff-low two points as he played with flu-like symptoms.

Billups intends to help his teammates bounce back. “I think a lot of that is going to be on me, trying to get them going on pick-and-rolls and stuff like that,” he said.

The Pistons expect James to get himself going after he deferred early, often and late in his first conference finals game.

James was scoreless in the first quarter as he looked to set up his teammates rather than shoot. He finished with a playoff-low 10 points on 5-of-15 shooting and didn’t attempt a free throw.

“He’s going to be very aggressive,” Billups said. “They’re talking about having him shoot free throws and all of that. I’m sure he’ll find a way to get on that free throw line the next game.”

James said he likes the Cavs’ mind-set entering a pivotal game.

“We just believe we can win—on the road, at home, slowdown game, high-volume game—we just have a lot of confidence,” he said. “Winning in the playoffs helps that.”

Related Articles

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists

Scoreboard

Thursday, May 24