NBA Playoffs: Billups, Pistons Fall
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images
While Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis were spectacularly brilliant last night, the indelible image from Game 3 of the Detroit/Orlando series is the one of Chauncey Billups falling awkwardly with this his legs in Van Damme-like split. However, in Billups’ case, the splits he was doing wasn’t purposeful and if the news about his hamstring doesn’t improve, they (the splits) could very well determine the Pistons’ post-season chances.
As indicated, the Magic — who jumped on the Pistons right from the tip and actually led 20-3 at one point during the 1st quarter — were led by Superman Howard and his sidekick, Rashard Lewis. Lewis was absolutely deadly from the beyond arc last night, hitting 5-6 and finishing with 33 points, a career playoff high. While Lewis controlled the perimeter, Howard dominated the paint, finishing with 20 points, 12 rebounds and 6 blocked shots.
The only inside player the Pistons could throw at him last night that might have made a difference — Rasheed Wallace — was completely ineffective, finishing with 11 points on 4-15 shooting and only 4 rebounds. Meanwhile, Jason Maxiell scored a whooping zero points and only grabbed 2 rebounds. To say Superman controlled these particular match-ups is an understatement.
Meanwhile, the focus for the remainder of the series, at least for the Pistons, has to be health of Billups. If he is hobbled by his hamstring, expect the Magic to advance. If he recovers without any residual issues, Detroit is still in a position to appear in their sixth-straight Eastern Conference Finals. According to reports, the Pistons are slightly optimistic Billups will make it back for Game 4:
“We’re shooting for him to play on Saturday,” said Detroit coach Flip Saunders. “It’s sore right now [and] we won’t know for the next 24 hours where he’s really at, but all indications are we’re shooting for him to go on Saturday.”