What's On Tap
Indiana Pacers at Detroit Pistons (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET)
What to Watch
Tonight's game between the Pistons and Pacers could be decided in the training rooms, as medical staff from both teams are scurrying to ready injured players.
Detroit's Ben Wallace has a strained back, and Rasheed Wallace is suffering from a sore foot. Jermaine O'Neal is being treated for a hyperextended left knee, and teammate Jamaal Tinsley has been slowed during the series by a sore left hamstring, knee and ankle.
It's the Eastern Conference finals so all the players are expected to see plenty of action, but Indiana has to be concerned about a limping O'Neal.
Without O'Neal and Tinsley at full strength, playing on Detroit's home court and having been blown out in game 5, the Pacers' chances look bad. They will face a Detroit team salivating at the prospect of eliminating the Pacers, moving on to the NBA finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, and doing it all in front of their home fans.
"It's an opportunity for this team, a young team that's won 61 games, to face adversity and show what we're capable of," Pacers' center Austin Croshere told the Detroit Free Press. "No teams get to be championship-level teams without facing levels of adversity, and this is really our first test."
To even the series, which Detroit leads 3-2, the Pacers must find a way to stop Pistons guard Richard Hamilton. The former member of the Washington Wizards has averaged 24.2 points against Indiana, including a 33-point performance in game 5 on Sunday. Expect to see Ron Artest, voted the NBA's best defender this season, guarding Hamilton tonight. Indiana coach Rick Carlisle has got to shut down Hamilton even if means leaving other Pistons open. So far, no other Detroit player has scored consistently.
Indiana must also solve its own shooting woes.
During the regular season, the Pacers shot 43.5 percent and scored 91.4 points a game. Against the Pistons, Indiana is shooting 34.6 percent and averaging 74.2 points a game.
That task only gets tougher with a hurting O'Neal.
Last Night's Big Winner (Team)
Los Angeles Lakers. Back in the finals after two years, the Lakers eliminate the Timberwolves, 96-90, and silence all the critics, at least for a while, who said the team would never manage to overcome the distractions of fielding four future Hall of Fame players, Kobe Bryant's court case and Bryant's conflicts with Shaquille O'Neal.
Last Night's Big Loser (Team)
Minnesota Timberwolves. Team missed guard Sam Cassell, hobbled during the series with a bad back, and also another quality big man to compliment Kevin Garnett. Michael Olowokandi and Ervin Johnson were manhandled by the Lakers' front line of O'Neal, Karl Malone and Devean George.
Last Night's Big Winner (Player)
Kareem Rush. The Lakers' second year player out of Missouri scores 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including 6 of 7 three-point shots.
Last Night's Big Loser (Player).
Fred Hoiberg. The Timberwolves' 6-foot-5 swingman scores four points in 26 minutes, two days after scoring 14 points in the Timberwolves' 98-96 victory on Saturday.