Pistons optimistic despite their record

The Associated PressApril 11, 2009 

They head into their final handful of games with a losing record, and they are looking at opening the playoffs in either Cleveland, Boston or Orlando.

Although Detroit's run of postseason success certainly seems over, don't expect the Pistons to admit it.

"I'm crazy enough to believe that we have a chance to beat anyone in the league whenever we're healthy and playing well," coach Michael Curry said.

Detroit has made six straight trips to the Eastern Conference finals, winning the NBA championship in 2004 and then falling a game shy of a repeat.

This time, after a miserable regular season, they would visit one of the league's power teams to start off. Yet there are still reasons to believe they could cause one of those teams problems: Nobody has more postseason experience than Detroit's core, and the Pistons have enough size and depth to bang with the Cavaliers, Celtics or Magic.

The Pistons won their last trip to Boston and have owned Orlando in recent years, so neither matchup would scare them if they can avoid the No. 8 seed.

And finally, the injury game is working in Detroit's favor. Richard Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace are back after missing a combined 25 games this season because of injuries. Allen Iverson is shelved for the season with a bad back, ending an experiment that never worked because his game didn't fit with the style the Pistons play.

BOSH WATCH: Toronto fans watched Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady go on to have All-Star seasons elsewhere, and they're already worried it will happen again with Chris Bosh.

And they let Bosh know it, which is why he doesn't enjoy the 2010 speculation as much as LeBron James and Dwyane Wade seem to do.

Like his two Olympic teammates, Bosh opted against a maximum length contract when he re-signed in 2006, giving him the option to become a free agent in 2010. Of the three, he's widely viewed as the most likely to leave his team.

Bosh is from Dallas, and the Raptors have quickly regressed in the last two years, falling from Atlantic Division champions to a team missing the playoffs. With his hometown Mavericks and the New York Knicks among the teams who could go after him next summer, there's some belief that the All-Star forward is so sure to leave Toronto that the Raptors may have to consider trading him first so they don't lose him for nothing.

BLAZERS BACK: Before the season started, Portland assistant coach Kaleb Canales devised a team motto. It was "1516."

The 15 was for the players who make up the Trail Blazers. The 16 was for the teams that make the playoffs. The message was that Portland would get to the postseason only if all 15 played as a team.

The Blazers did, ending the NBA's longest postseason drought. They made the playoffs since the 2002-03 season.

WILLIAMS RETURNS: Forward Marvin Williams returned to the Atlanta Hawks after missing 16 games with a lower back injury.

Williams, who averaged 14 points and 6.4 rebounds in starting his first 59 games this season, entered Friday's game against the Indiana Pacers midway through the first quarter.

Drafted No. 2 overall after helping North Carolina win a national title as a freshman sixth man in 2005, Williams was injured March 7 against Detroit.

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