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Pistons prepare for Spurs

The Pistons are saying all of the right things as they prepare for tonight's game against the Spurs, their first visit to San Antonio since dropping Game 7 of the Finals last June.

"We know what a playoff game is," Hamilton said, "and we know what a regular-season game is. The playoffs are something totally different."

The Spurs, on the other hand, are looking to avenge a 85-70 pasting at the Palace on Christmas Day. Another loss to the Pistons wouldn't be the end of the world for the Spurs, but it would give the Pistons the edge for homecourt advantage should the two teams finish with identical records.

According to the San Antonio Express-News, Gregg Popovich hasn't been happy with his team's effort down the stretch in games:

The Spurs have lost only once since that visit to the Palace of Auburn Hills but lack the consistency needed to defend their title in the playoffs. Their play at the end of games has frustrated Popovich.

A couple of defensive breakdowns, along with a turnover by Tim Duncan, led to Saturday's loss in Phoenix. During Tuesday's victory over New Jersey, the Spurs allowed 14 points in the final 36.8 seconds. Afterward, Popovich called the performance "disgusting."

One thing to keep in mind tonight is that the Spurs have Manu Ginobili back -- he sat out the first game against Detroit with a foot injury, but has been very productive off the bench the last seven games.

The Pistons will also be without Carlos Arroyo, who will serve his one-game suspension for bumping an official tonight. Here's to hoping that Chauncey Billups is ready for some big minutes, because rookie Alex Acker (who's yet to be active for a game this year) will be the only other point guard available. Luckily this is a nationally televised game (on TNT) -- the timeouts will be longer and Billups will have more time to catch his breath.

I'm not one for previews, so I'll wrap this up, but I did want to quickly point to a new Pistons weblog -- A. Sherrod Blakely of Booth Newspapers has officially launched Pistons Bulletin over at MLive.com. It's always interesting when members of the mainstream media take advantage of the internet to have casual conversations with fans, and I'm looking forward to see how Blakely uses his new forum.

Intensity subdued vs. Spurs [Detroit Free Press]
Spurs-Pistons fight to finish finds Round 2 [San Antonio Express-News]
Pistons Bulletin [MLive]