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Published: Saturday, 5/24/2008

Celtics must adjust - on road

ASSOCIATED PRESS

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - The Boston Celtics simply watched film and talked about adjustments the day after losing at home for the first time in the playoffs.

"Sometimes, I think you need a mental break," Boston coach Doc Rivers said yesterday. "So, we're taking one and we'll be fresh."

At this point, it's time for Boston to try anything to stop its skid on the road.

If the Celtics don't, they're going home to watch the NBA finals on TV.

The Detroit Pistons ended Boston's home winning streak at nine with a 103-97 victory that tied the Eastern Conference finals at one game apiece.

Now, the NBA's top-seeded team will have to take a game on the road - or else.

"If we're going to win this series, we've got to protect the home for the rest of the series and try to get one on the road," Paul Pierce said.

Boston's first chance comes tonight at the Palace.

"People are going to say, 'Well, they haven't won on the road. Can they win on the road?' They're going to come in with a great focus," Pistons coach Flip

Saunders said. "We have to have the same focus and hope the adrenaline of the crowd will help us play with even more energy."

If the Celtics lose, they will be the first team to start 0-7 on the road in the playoffs to break a tie for the unwanted distinction with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1971 and the Miami Heat in 2004.

"I don't think it's really bothering us, like, psychologically," Pierce insisted Thursday night after Boston fell just short of equaling an NBA record. The Celtics were a few shots and stops away in Game 2 from matching a league mark by winning their first 10 postseason games at home. Six teams started 10-0 at home in the playoffs, including the 1986 Celtics and 1990 Pistons before both of those teams won titles.

Detroit has been pretty good at home, too, winning five straight since losing the postseason opener a month ago to the Philadelphia 76ers.

"It's going to be crazy," Richard Hamilton said. "We've got the best fans in the NBA. Everybody knows about the Palace at Auburn Hills."

Everybody also knows about Boston's Big Three and Detroit's true team.

Pierce scored 26, Kevin Garnett had 24 points and Ray Allen had a breakout game by scoring 20 of his 25 points in the second half.

"Their three main guys, for the first time in the playoffs, all played well together. Very well," Saunders said. "When we play well, usually it's a team effort and a lot of people are involved. Last night was a prime example of that."

While Boston's trio is going through the rigors of the playoffs for the first time, Detroit's nucleus is doing it for a fifth year in a row and a few key players have been together in the postseason in six straight conference finals.

The four Pistons who helped win the 2004 title each answered Boston's clutch shots in the final minute.

Hamilton made a mid-range jumper, Chauncey Billups scored on a reverse layup off an inbounds play, Rasheed Wallace had a free throw and Tayshaun Prince made two at the line.

Before that decisive stretch, two more Pistons contributed as Antonio McDyess made a jumper midway through the fourth and rookie Rodney Stuckey had six of his 13 points in a three-minute span early in the final quarter.

"What makes Detroit good is you can't really hone in on one guy," Rivers said. "Obviously, in the two previous series we've had LeBron [James] and Joe Johnson. Even though they had players around them, clearly they were the focal point.

"[The Pistons] have five for sure, and six guys on certain nights they can go to."



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