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NBA General

Around the Rim: Detroit looks like the team to beat in the East



Must resist saying how good it feels
to be in the East finals.

1. The Pistons are pumping
For a half during Game 3 of the Pistons/Bulls series it looked like Chicago might snatch a game and make this series interesting again. Unfortunately for Chi-Town, it was the first half. The Bulls Baby Bulls came out of the locker room after halftime completely flat and got outscored 53-30 in the final 24 minutes before the mercy ended with the Pistons grabbing a 81-74 victory and a 3-0 lead in the series. Chicago defiantly showed some life despite their horrible second half shooting as they hit the boards, and they hit the boards hard. Four starters finished with double digits in rebounds as Chicago outboarded the Pistons 60-43. But Chauncey Billups and Tayshaun Prince were just too much for Chicago to handle and now it’s starting to look like the Bulls will be lucky to avoid getting swept out of the same postseason in which they just swept out the defending NBA champs. Damn, we didn’t know that karma performed turnarounds this quick.

2. The West is best

On Thursday the league released the names of the All-NBA teams and the Western Conference showed why they have a majority of the best teams in the league; they have all the best players. In fact, out of the 15 players to make one of the three teams, only six were from the East. The first team consisted of only players from out west as Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki and Kobe Bryant got the nods as the best of the best. The East did, however, dominate the second team with LeBron James, Gilbert Arenas and Chris Bosh joining the Houston duo of Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming. Rounding out the teams were third stringers Dwyane Wade, Chauncey Billups, Dwight Howard, Kevin Garnett and Carmelo Anthony. Hmmm, somebody’s missing from this list. Ah, yes, Shaq! Nope, it’s no typo; the Diesel didn’t make the cut for the first time since his rookie year in 1993.

3. Boston is getting all their ducks in a row
Life is good for Celtics coach Doc Rivers. On Thursday, Boston gave Rivers a contract extension but didn’t bother to disclose the length of the contract or the amount of Benjamins involved. How rude! It’s unbelievable that Rivers managed to avoid the guillotine’s chop for the entire season after enduring the worst losing streak in franchise history (18 consecutive losses!) en route to a pathetic 24-58 record. Guess Danny Ainge doesn’t consider finishing the season 16 games out of the playoffs and claiming the dishonor as the worst team in the Eastern Conference to be rock bottom. Ainge obviously has a lot of faith in his current squad and feels that with a healthy roster and a little luck in the draft, the Celtics could become a contender in the near future. But by the look of things, Ainge certainly appears to be getting everything ready to welcome a young, fresh face of the future. Does he know something we don’t know? Perhaps David Stern has another scheme up his sleeve to revive a dying franchise.

Thursday’s Player of the Day: Tayshaun Prince @ Chicago 43 min, 23 pts (FG: 9-16, 3FG: 1-2, FT: 4-5), 11 reb, 2 ast, 1 blk

Buzzer Beater: As if the Spurs/Suns series wasn’t already a great battle, Amare Stoudemire decided to add a little bad blood to equation by calling San Antonio a “dirty team” and accusing Bruce Bowen of intentionally attempting to injure him. To say that Amare was upset would be an understatement because according to him he was “very, very, very upset” about the incident. The latest accusation in the long line of questionable tactics from Bowen happened during the third quarter of Game 2 when Stoudemire was going up for a dunk under the hoop. “When I saw the replay and reviewed it three or four times, there was no doubt about it,”” Stoudemire said. “It was a purpose kick to the Achilles’ and he definitely tried to injure me.” And when you look at the play, it’s hard to argue with the guy. Here’s the footage, you be the judge.