After beating the Cavaliers, Kevin Garnett spoke about the toll two seven-game series have taken on his team. From Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal:
"As you advance, it does get a little more difficult," forward Kevin Garnett said. "Detroit has obviously been resting and waiting, and we’ve played 14 hard games. We’re more emotionally drained than anything, but we’re getting prepared for Detroit (today)."
The Pistons see this as a potential advantage ... but also a trap. From Chris McCosky of the Detroit News:
"It's a tough turnaround for them," Billups said. "For seven games they've been locked into one team. Then you've got one day to prepare for another team that's been waiting and ready to go. We'll see how they handle it.
"But frankly, I don't care if they handle it at all. I am just worried about us."
Lindsey Hunter cautioned his teammates against thinking the Celtics might be physically or mentally fatigued.
"We can't go into the series thinking that is an advantage for us," he said. "We have to go and play them like they've swept everybody.
"They were the best team in the NBA. They didn't accomplish that by chance. That (fatigue) won't be a factor."
If the Pistons want to take this series, I think they need to split the first two games. Trouble is, Game 1 will be the most difficult after a long layoff -- the Pistons may not like to admit it, but they're definitely a rhythm team that benefits when players have a chance to stay in a groove. Fortunately, there are no more funky breaks between now and the NBA Finals -- the Pistons and Celtics will play every other day until someone wins four.
Besides, if I had to choose between starting out-of-sync and being fatigued, the choice is easy: the former improves the more you play, the latter gets worse. And after banging the "they lost because they were tired!" drum for two straight years, I'm kind of excited to know that the Pistons are more rested now than they've been the entire season. It's time to put up or shut up.
Update: Ray Allen adds his two cents:
"I would rather have the rhythm" of regular competition than extra rest, Allen said, "because (with) the rhythm you don't have to guess from one day to the next" how you'll play.
Take this with a mountain-sized grain of salt: this is a guy who scored 0, 16, 10, 15, 11, 9 and 4 points, respectively, in the Cleveland series. I guarantee no one on the Celtics' roster has a clue which Ray Allen will show up from night to night -- he may be Boston's biggest wild card of the playoffs.