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Pistons and Magic kick off the second round

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I've been severely negligent in my DBB duties, but all of you seem to have gotten along fine without me. In any case, um, yeah, the Pistons beat the 76ers! And now they play the Magic! Starting tonight, in fact. Just to be thorough, here's the complete schedule:

  1. TONIGHT @ the Palace, 7:30pm, TNT
  2. Monday, Cinco de Mayo @ the Palace, 7:00pm, TNT
  3. Wednesday, May 7 in Orlando, 8:00pm, TNT
  4. Saturday, May 10 in Orlando, TBD
  5. (if needed) Tuesday, May 13 @ the Palace, TBD
  6. (if needed) Thursday, May 15 in Orlando, TBD
  7. (if needed) Sunday, May 18, TBD

To be honest, I'm not sure the Sixers series could have worked out any better for the Pistons. They got a needed slap in the face to get their mindset right for the playoffs while also avoiding the dreaded lay-off between series that often results in rust seeping in. (Remember the difference between how the Pistons played immediately before and after the All-Star break? It was like night and day.) There's a rhythm to playing every other day, and that'll be maintained through the first three games of the series.

Also, I'm actually quite confident most of those if-needed's will be needed. This season's squad is light years better than what we saw 12 months ago. Dwight Howard is by far the most dominant force in the NBA, period, and he's surrounded by guys who love to shoot from long-distance. In a lot of ways, they remind me of the Houston Rockets teams that won back-to-back titles during Jordan's vacation. That said, Orlando's backcourt will haunt them. Jameer Nelson and Mo Evans? Those two couldn't crack Detroit's rotation, let alone starting lineup. It's on Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton to exploit that matchup ever night.

If you'd like a Magic-tinted view of the series, you're in luck, because Third Quarter Collapse is one of the top NBA blogs in existence. Ball tips at 7:30 on TNT. I'll be at the Palace for FanHouse; you, of course, are welcome to stay here to leave your thoughts on the game in the comments.