- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 14, 2002

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) The Boston Celtics have a stifling defense and a whole lot of history on their side.
The Celtics, who hold a 3-1 series lead over the Detroit Pistons, are one victory away from advancing to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 1988.
Boston, which hadn't made the postseason in seven years, never has lost a playoff series after leading 3-1.
The visiting Celtics will try to knock out the Pistons tonight, using the same defensive game plan that held Detroit to a 73.3-point average the last three games.
Antoine Walker, who combined with Paul Pierce for 55 points in the Celtics' 90-79 Game 4 victory Sunday at home, doesn't want the best-of-seven series stretched to a sixth game in Boston.
"They've got some veteran guys on their team, so it's going to be very difficult for us to go out there and win," Walker said. "But we've got to go out there with a killer attitude on closing this thing out."
Boston, which yielded 96 points in a Game 1 loss, allowed 77, 64 and 79 points in the next three games.
The Pistons credit Boston's strategy of taking away the middle, but they also blame too many unforced turnovers and missed shots.
"We don't need to make any adjustments," said Ben Wallace, the NBA Defensive Player of the Year who had 21 rebounds in each of the last two games. "We're playing solid defense and getting good shots. We just haven't been knocking them down."
Boston point guard Kenny Anderson, who has routinely broken down the Detroit defense for layups, said the Celtics are implementing the strategy in part because they don't want to hear coach Jim O'Brien and his assistants talk about it anymore.
"We got tired of the coaching staff talking about the middle, the middle, the middle, so we buckled down and stopped them," said Anderson, who had seven points and five assists in Game 4.
Pistons coach Rick Carlisle said he wouldn't discuss potential lineup changes when asked if guard Damon Jones would see increased playing time.
Jones had five points, nine assists and five rebounds in an unusually high 30 minutes Sunday. He said the Pistons will be playing again in Boston on Thursday if they stick to their game plan.
"If we approach the game with a businesslike attitude as we have all season long, I think we're going to be fine," he said. "You have to give credit to Boston. They're a pretty good basketball team. We weren't able to get over the hump because those guys made plays."
The Pistons have shot only 38.8 percent from the floor in the series.
"Boston's doing a great job. You've got to give them credit," Wallace said. "They're forcing us to shoot just jump shots. They're plugging it in the paint and forcing us to take contested jumps shots. We've got to find a way to penetrate the defense."
Boston hasn't been much better, connecting on just 39.8 percent of its shots from the field.
"We never get frustrated with the things we are doing offensively," Pierce said. "But we understand what's going to win these games is the defense anyway.
"If we can continue to hold Detroit under 30, under 40 percent shooting, regardless of how our offense goes, we feel like we can win."


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