What's On Tap
New Jersey Nets at Detroit Pistons (TNT, 7 p.m. ET)
Sacramento Kings at Minnesota Timberwolves (TNT, 9:30 p.m. ET)
What to Watch
One of the NBA's best defenses before the arrival of Rasheed Wallace, the Detroit Pistons became a virtual barricade after he was obtained in a trade with the Portland Trail Blazers on Feb. 19.
Rasheed Wallace would propel Detroit to the NBA finals, the pundits predicted.
But on the heels of back-to-back losses to the New Jersey Nets, Detroit is wringing its hands over inflammation in Wallace's left arch, an injury that greatly restricted his movement in Game 4. The Pistons lost, 94-79, tying up the Eastern Conference semifinal series at 2-2.
In that game, Wallace finished with 6 points, 6 rebounds, and zero blocked shots. As a Piston this season, Wallace has averaged 13.7 points, 7 rebounds and 2.05 blocks per game.
Nonetheless, the 6-11, 230-pound forward has vowed to play tonight.
"Over the summer, when you're barbecuing, then you can say, 'All the pain and sweat and blood is in that [championship] ring,'" Wallace told the Detroit Free Press.
Teaming Rasheed Wallace with Ben Wallace, another virtuoso shot blocker, formed the most formidable pair of post defenders on one team since Tim Duncan and David Robinson were together in San Antonio.
Before the trade, Detroit amassed a record of 34-22 (60 percent). After the trade, the Pistons went 20-6 (76 percent). In five straight games, they held their opponents to less than 70 points, an NBA record. The streak was broken by the Nets.
To add to Detroit's woes, Chauncey Billups is also ailing, tweaking his back in Game 3. Look for the Nets to attack the basket and force Ben Wallace to cover a lot of ground.
In Minnesota, the predictions that the Timberwolves would quell the Kings' perimeter shooting were correct. They were also right about the Kings' arsenal of big men overwhelming Kevin Garnett.
With the series tied (2-2) the Timberwolves are searching for a way to get Garnett help against Sacramento's Chris Webber, Brad Miller and Vlade Divac. Minnesota guard Trenton Hassell helped hold Peja Stojakovic to eight points on 2-of-8 shooting in Game 4.
Combined, Stojakovic, Mike Bibby and Doug Christie, the Kings' three best shooters, made 7 of 31 shots (22 percent). But to do this, Minnesota needed help from Garnett, which left Webber open. The Kings forward scored 28 points in Game 4.
This Weekend's Big Winner (Team)
Los Angeles Lakers. Providence smiled on them. How likely is it that someone could catch, aim and shoot a basketball in 0.4 seconds, as Derek Fisher did to hand the Lakers an improbable 74-73 victory? The referees say it happened, so the Lakers take a 3-2 lead over the Spurs in the series. They hold Spurs to 38 percent shooting and 26 percent from the three-point line.
This Weekend's Big Loser (Team)
San Antonio Spurs. Losing at home may prove disastrous. So far in this season's playoffs, the home team has gone 41-15 (.732). Spurs face elimination in Game 6 on Saturday and must rally from a disappointing loss to defeat Lakers in Los Angeles.
This Weekend's Big Winner (Player)
Devean George. Overshadowed by four future hall of fame players, the little-known Lakers guard scores 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting, including four three-point shots.
This Weekend's Big Loser (Player)
Robert Horry. He is supposed to be clutch post-season player but former Rocket and Laker musters only 6 rebounds and zero points in 27 minutes. The Spurs signed Horry for his history of big performances in the playoffs but the team's investment thus far has been a bust.