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Pistons avenge last year's sweep to return to conference finals

You thought the Pistons missed the playoffs? Not at PistonPowered.

We’re honoring the 10th anniversary of the 2004 NBA championship team by examining each postseason game on the corresponding 2014 date. We’ll look back at Detroit’s performances, detail our memories of that time and provide insight from the players and coaches who were Goin’ to Work every single night.

So, stick with us this “offseason.” I have a hunch these Pistons will be playing into June.

New Jersey Nets 69 Final
Recap | Box Score
90 Detroit Pistons
Chauncey Billups, PG 40 MIN | 6-16 FG | 6-6 FT | 2 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 22 PTSBillups put together a solid offensive outing, but nothing special. On defense, though, he shut down Jason Kidd, probably the Nets’ best player. And that’s the biggest reason this game was a blowout.

Chauncey definitely ended an up and down series on a high note.

Richard Hamilton, SG 43 MIN | 8-22 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 21 PTSHamilton gave the Pistons what they needed from him. A stronger defensive effort would have been nice, but his primary job is to put the ball in the basket regularly. And Rip did exactly that.

Through a very hot and cold series, Hamilton has been Detroit’s most consistent player. His nightly 21, 5, and 5 has been invaluable.

Tayshaun Prince, SF 36 MIN | 1-9 FG | 0-2 FT | 6 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 3 PTSTo his credit, Prince found other ways to contribute when his shot wasn’t falling. But this was still a very bad game.

After a ridiculously good first round series, Prince averaged a brutal eight points on 30% shooting in the second round. And he may be guarded by the reigning defensive player of the year next.

Rasheed Wallace, PF 31 MIN | 6-16 FG | 0-1 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTSRasheed had a mediocre game. But his keeping Kenyon Martin from finding shots he wanted was a major part of why the Nets didn’t score for the first six and a half minutes of the second half. To be fair, that was a dominant defensive performance by the whole starting lineup. But Sheed was the most impressive in that stretch.

It would be easy to say Rasheed will be happy to get away from bumping around with Kenyon Martin after a tough series. But much of his difficulties stemmed from cold long range shooting. I don’t know that Martin deserves much credit for Sheed’s 21% mark from deep. Either way, here’s hoping he finds his shot against the Pacers.

Ben Wallace, C 42 MIN | 8-10 FG | 2-3 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 18 PTSBen Wallace played his typical strong defense, but it was his offense that really shined in this one. Ben was taking and making shots he generally avoids.

This has been a very strong series for Ben all around. He set the tone with his five offensive rebounds and five combined blocks and steals per game.

Corliss Williamson, PF 16 MIN | 2-5 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTSWilliamson’s line wasn’t bad. But his defense was so far below that of the starters he replaced. Consider that he played only a third of the game and the Nets scored more with him playing than with him sitting. They were on pace to notch 105 points with Corliss on the floor as opposed to 51 with him on the bench. That’s not all on Williamson, but when the disparity is that huge, it’s noteworthy.

Lindsey Hunter, SG 4 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS
Mehmet Okur, C 16 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTSOkur played well enough to be a starter. Overall, he’s had a fantastic series. While he can’t get the playing time he deserves (why are Ham and Williamson consistently seeing the floor?), Okur has averaged nearly the exact same numbers on a per minute basis as Ben Wallace, arguably the best player in this series. Obviously, his defense isn’t the same, but Memo could give Detroit more if afforded the opportunity.  
Mike James, PG 9 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTSJames was mostly defending Kidd. He didn’t draw the assignment as long as Billups did, but he played it just as masterfully.  
Darvin Ham, SF 1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS  
Darko Milicic, C 2 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS  
Larry Brown, Head Coach
The Pistons ended a long and difficult series with a heck of a bang. They held Kidd scoreless for the first time all season and the first time ever in his playoff career. They sent the Nets packing in their first ever game 7. And they exorcised the demons of last year’s sweep. I don’t always agree with Brown, especially on his aversion to playing young guys, but the Pistons advanced, so this was a success.

-Tim Thielke

From the Frontlines

In 2003, the Pistons came back from a 3-1 series deficit to force a Game 7 against the Orlando Magic. Any tension for that pivotal game quickly dissipated, as Detroit led by double digits midway through the first quarter, pushed the advantage to 26 and finished with a comfortable 15-point win.

When the Pistons of this era smelled blood in the water, they pounced.

But the 2004 Nets were also an experienced playoff team, so there was no way they’d go out like suckers. Or so it seemed.

In reality, New Jersey just didn’t have the will to keep competing – showing how mentally strong the Pistons were. Detroit’s 21-point win was the biggest Game 7 blowout in nine years.

“We definitely had a mental edge,” Tayshaun Prince said. “Honestly coming back winning that Game 6 and making them play our style that whole second half. And then also, in terms of going back and regaining homecourt, I think, in their minds, as far as what it would take to beat us at home in a Game 7, I think from that standpoint, yes, it would have been a lot to overcome.”

Up next

Indiana, here they come.

After a back-and-forth trio of games, the Pistons finally got back to what they were doing right in Games 1 and 2 — playing defense.

New Jersey never got anything going and failed to top 70 points for the third time in the series. That’s impressive, like, impressive enough to where you will be hard-pressed to see that again in an NBA playoff semifinal series.

Oh, and remember how Jason Kidd was out-playing Chauncey Billups? The Pistons held Kidd scoreless, too.

The defense was great, but perhaps the most important part of the Pistons’ Game 7 win was their offense. Richard Hamilton carried a sluggish offense all series, but when all of the starters are playing well on that end, it took this team to another level.

Now, they’ll look to battle the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals when that series begins on May 22.

-Brady Fredericksen

Next Pistons Game Full schedule »
Thursday, Oct 2323 Oct7:30Philadelphia 76ersBuy Tickets

Tags: Ben Wallace Chauncey Billups Corliss Williamson Darvin Ham Jason Kidd Larry Brown Lindsey Hunter Mehmet Okur Mike James Rasheed Wallace Richard Hamilton Tayshaun Prince Tracy McGrady

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