NBA playoff matchup

May 03, 2004|By Milton Kent

Second round, Eastern Conference

No. 2 New Jersey (47-35) vs. No .3 Detroit (54-28)

Season series: 2-2 (Detroit will have home-court advantage by virtue of a better regular-season record.)

How they got here: New Jersey swept New York, 4-0, in the first round. Detroit beat Milwaukee, 4-1, in the first round.

Nets outlook: F Kenyon Martin, who had been suffering from a knee injury, averaged 23.3 points and 14 rebounds in the four-game sweep over the Knicks. Likewise, G Jason Kidd, who also has had knee problems, returned to form in the New York series, with a 17-point, nine-assist average. The Nets have won 14 straight Eastern Conference playoff games, including a sweep of the Pistons to reach last year's NBA Finals.

Pistons outlook: All five Detroit starters are averaging in double figures in scoring in the playoffs. F Tayshaun Prince is shooting 59 percent from the field in the postseason, while F Rasheed Wallace had four double doubles in the Milwaukee series. Ben and Rasheed Wallace combined to average five blocks a game during the playoffs.

Prediction: If the Pistons take the running game away from the Nets, this will be a short series. It may be anyway, because New Jersey still hasn't shown an ability to play well in the half-court game. The Pistons are too balanced and too deep for the Nets to stop them. Detroit in five.

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