Tuesday, May 13, 2008Pistons' Billups closer to playing
Pistons guard says his hamstring feels good; will wait until morning to make final decision.
Chris McCosky / The Detroit News
AUBURN HILLS -- Once again, Chauncey Billups woke up Monday feeling better. The pain in his strained right hamstring, for the fifth straight day, seemed to have lessened.
Yet, the odds of him playing in Game 5 tonight remain the same: 50-50.
"Chauncey has never strained a hamstring before," Pistons physical therapist Arnie Kander said. "There has to be a comfort level and a confidence level. That's more important than anything. We don't push him to that confidence. We will work him through it.
"Chauncey said, 'We'll see in the morning. I am feeling good, everything is great. But we'll see where we are at. There will be no rushing in the process.' "
Billups, not made available to the media after practice Monday, continued round-the-clock treatment from Kander, who believes Billups is very close to being fit to play.
"He's done a lot of cutting, rotating, pivoting," Kander said. "We worked in a 15-foot space and he's had no problem, no limitations. My key with this is no setbacks from day to day. If you look at it three or four days ago and compare it to today, it's night and day. He's running good and feeling good."
One thing was made clear Monday: the status of the series plays no role in determining Billups' return.
"The main thing is, when he's ready, he will play," coach Flip Saunders said. "Doesn't matter if the series is 3-1, 3-2 or 3-3."
Rodney Stuckey would again start if Billups can't go. Lindsey Hunter , who played 26 solid minutes in Game 4, will be the first guard off the bench. Antonio McDyess, Saunders said, would also most likely continue to start.
The Magic said their mission is the same regardless if Billups plays -- win and get the series back to Orlando.
"Confidence is not a problem," coach Stan Van Gundy said"
The Magic have won 28 road games this season, including one thus far in the postseason.
"This is very urgent," said Richard Hamilton, who needs 10 points to pass Isiah Thomas as the Pistons' career playoff scoring leader. "This is what we work for, to get a game like this in our building. "
You can reach Chris McCosky at (313) 222-1489 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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