1988 Eastern Conference Finals: Auerbach Praises Pistons


Red Auerbach doesn't want to be, but he is very impressed with the Detroit strategy in the Eastern Conference finals. "They played the first two games in Boston much more aggressively than they usually do," said the Celtics president."

They were much more physical. Guys not usually physical were very physical. I think what they wanted to do was set a physical tempo here in Boston and then step it up a notch in Detroit. My guessing is that their strategy was to set up the refs for the game in Detroit. You can't go from doing nothing physical to all of a sudden being very physical without getting fouls called. But they are gambling that by setting the tempo here, they can get away with more out there."

People close to some of the Lakers say they are rooting for the Celtics to win because they don't think there is any way the Celtics can beat them, while Detroit would present a much more formidable opponent. The Lakers also reportedly felt that Utah would be a lot tougher to play than Dallas because they match up much better with the Mavericks than the Jazz.

The Lakers say giant center Mark Eaton's presence in the lane all the time forced them to alter their shots and the quickness of guard John Stockton forced them to play more defense than they had all year. Stockton's ability to hold the ball for 20 seconds, then make a play to beat the 24-second clock, took the Laker fast break out of action and forced them to play tough defense every 24-second possession, which they do not like to do. They fear Detroit more than Boston or Dallas because Detroit has Isiah Thomas, who can do the same thing Stockton did: control the ball and then make a move to penetrate the defense and set up a play.

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