90 - 86 Final
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Pistons begin quest for sixth consecutive East final

Apr 20, 2008 - 1:28 PM Philadelphia at Detroit 6:00 pm EDT Eastern Conference First Round

AUBURN HILLS, Michigan (Ticker) - The postseason is mostly about experience, and the Detroit Pistons have plenty of it. But the same can't be said for the Philadelphia 76ers.

The second-seeded Pistons begin their quest of trying to reach their sixth straight Eastern Conference finals in Game One of the opening round series against the seventh-seeded Sixers on Sunday.

Over the past few years Detroit has been the cream of the crop in the conference, but has managed just one NBA championship (2003-04) to show for it.

"Bad, bad summers," Pistons All-Star guard Chauncey Billups said about the past three offseasons. "It's a horrible feeling. We're trying not to have that feeling this summer."

Billups along with mainstays Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace - all starters - are entering their fifth consecutive postseason as a unit.

However, Detroit's recent struggles in the playoffs has come due to failed contributions by the bench, which showed during last season's conference final against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

But team president Joe Dumars hopes to have fixed those problems with the improvement of Jason Maxiell and Amir Johnson, and the drafting of rookies Rodney Stuckey and Arron Afflalo. Dumars also added center Theo Ratliff late in the season to provide depth in the middle.

Philadelphia coach Maurice Cheeks will place his club's success on the shoulders of the 1-2 punch of Andre Iguodala and Andre Miller.

At 6-6, Iguodala is having his best season as a pro with 19.9 points and 5.4 rebounds, while Miller looks to build off his career high (17.1) scoring average.

But Cheeks can't rely on Iguodala and Miller for the entire series.

Philadelphia's inexperienced core of Louis Williams, rookie Thaddeus Young and Rodney Carney will have to provide some type of spark off the bench if the Sixers want to avoid an early exit.

"They're in the playoffs and they've been a much different team the second half of the season," Billups said. "That's the team we have to focus on, not the first half of the season's team. The team that's been playing the last 30 games, they're capable of beating us - and we know that."

Philadelphia and Detroit split in four games during the regular season with both clubs taking one road victory.