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Pistons take aim at Nets' playoff streak

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Like many Eastern Conference teams,
the Detroit Pistons are well aware of how tough the New Jersey Nets
are at playoff time.

The Nets eliminated the Pistons in four games in last season's
conference finals en route to a second straight trip to the NBA
finals. That's part of a streak of three straight series sweeps for
New Jersey.

Not that it makes Detroit feel any better.

"They haven't lost a game in the conference playoffs in a long
time," Pistons coach Larry Brown said.

Over the last two years, the Nets have won 14 straight playoff
games against conference foes, tying the second-longest such run in
NBA history. The Los Angeles Lakers won 16 in a row in the Western
Conference from 2000-02 and had a 14-game streak from 1988-90.

New Jersey puts that mark on the line against the Pistons
starting Monday night with Game 1 of their best-of-seven series.

Detroit beat Milwaukee 91-77 Thursday night in Game 5 of their
first-round series.

Detroit has home-court advantage against New Jersey because it
had a better regular-season record than the Nets, who were the
second-seeded team in the first round because they won the Atlantic
Division.

"We had home-court advantage (last year), and the first two
games went to the wire, and they made the play at the end to win,"
Detroit's Tayshaun Prince said. "We can't let that happen this
time. We've got to really get off to a good start and we can't play
catch up. We have to make a statement in Game 1."

Game 2 is May 7, before the series shifts to New Jersey for
Games 3 and 4.

"You look at the best teams in this league and they defend;
both of us are going to look to disrupt each other on the defensive
end," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said Friday. "It's going to come
down to our ability or their ability to do so."

The Pistons held Milwaukee, the East's highest-scoring team, to
85.6 points a game, almost 13 below the Bucks' average. Detroit
averaged eight blocked shots, more than nine steals and forced more
than 16 turnovers a game.

"It's really going to come down to Detroit's defense, and how
New Jersey handles their pressure, because they're a very, very
good defensive team," Milwaukee's Keith Van Horn said. "They have
very good shot-blocking. They have players who do a great job of
pressuring."

Of course, Detroit realizes forcing point guard Jason Kidd to
turn the ball over is much more difficult than doing that to
Milwaukee's Damon Jones or Brevin Knight.

Detroit gave up just 84.3 points a game during the regular
season, the third-lowest figure since the NBA began using a shot
clock during the 1954-55 season.

And the Pistons set a league record by holding 11 opponents _
including five straight -- under 70 points. That streak was stopped
by New Jersey, in the teams' last regular-season meeting, when the
Nets committed an intentional foul to stop the clock with 13.1
seconds left. Aaron Williams then made a tip-in with 1.1 seconds
remaining in an 89-71 Detroit win.

The Pistons mocked the Nets for celebrating the basket.