Posted: Friday May 26, 2006 12:40AM; Updated: Friday May 26, 2006 5:07PM
SI.com's Kelly Dwyer looks at the best and worst of the NBA Playoffs each night
Tayshaun Prince, Pistons
Over 14 postseason games, Prince's ability to hit shots has more or less set the tone for whether or not the Pistons will be able to showcase a balanced attack and end the night with the win. Thus far, he's averaged 13.8 points on 41 percent shooting in Detroit's playoff losses, and 18.4 points (on a 49 percent clip) in the wins. Thursday, Prince came through with a team-leading 24 points on 10-of-20 shooting, adding 11 rebounds, and playing his usual lockdown defense. He'll hope to sustain that touch during Games 3 and 4 in Miami, where Prince registered 20 points in a March win, and just five points in a February loss.
Antoine Walker, Heat
That lockdown defense from Detroit's Prince came at Antoine Walker's expense. On the heels of a solid 17 and seven effort in Miami's Game 1 win, Walker was a no-show in Thursday's loss, firing blanks while affording Prince the opportunity to put his team over the top. Walker missed nine of 12 shots, including six of seven from 3-point range, on his way to an 11-point night. Even worse, he was a step slow on defense, and failed to contribute anything significant (more turnovers than assists, only four rebounds in 41 minutes) in what turned out to be a close Miami loss.
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Wallace's court-wide wingspan
Big Ben Wallace's energetic play was a welcome addition to a lethargic Game 2. His early offensive contributions and ability to stay a step ahead of Shaquille O'Neal on defense tended to stick out in a nearly three-hour slogfest that included 34 turnovers along with two eight-second violations. One end-to-end run from Wallace, with 9:19 left in the second quarter, did bring a little excitement -- however fleeting. Ben grabbed a long offensive rebound off a Rip Hamilton miss, chucked it out to Lindsey Hunter, who took an ill-advised 3-pointer with 23 seconds on the shot clock. The bomb missed, Wallace grabbed another offensive rebound, and this time looked to pass to a cutting Antonio McDyess, who threw down a dunk. As the Heat dashed to the opposite end of the court, Wallace raced about 85 feet and drew a charge call on Dwyane Wade.
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Dallas coach Avery Johnson told his team not to relent after a rousing Game 7 win over the defending champs in the Conference Semifinals. He warned his Mavericks not to celebrate after made baskets against Phoenix in Game 1, to look for Shawn Marion (right) and the rest of the Suns as they streaked down the floor, he asked his team to chase Steve Nash away from his comfort zones on offense, and attack the Suns guard on defense. Well, the Mavericks got the last one right -- Devin Harris torched Phoenix for 30 points in the loss, but the rest was a miss, as the Mavs ended up ceding the home-court advantage to the Suns. Friday night in Game 2 (8:30 p.m. EST/TNT), Dallas will attempt to make things right, try to play the perfect game defensively, and save its season.