Pistons to put Billups through extensive treatments before Saturday
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Chauncey Billups spent almost all Wednesday night in the trainer's room. He was there Thursday, when the rest of the Detroit Pistons took the court to practice. And he'll be there most of Friday, too.
"He's going to have stuff he's never seen before," said Arnie Kander, Detroit's strength and conditioning coach. "We're going to hit him with a barrage of different things -- we're going to do 7-8 treatments a day, pretty much around the clock.
"The goal is Saturday, and that's what we'll do. Get him ready for Saturday."
That's when the Magic will try to tie up their Eastern Conference semifinal series in Game 4 in Orlando.
Billups sustained the first hamstring strain of his 11-year NBA career in Detroit's 111-86 loss to the Magic on Wednesday after getting tangled up with Jameer Nelson under the basket. Nelson's foot caught Billups', and the Pistons guard's legs split open and he fell to the floor. That was four minutes into the game, and Billups didn't return.
"It's feeling sore, kind of similar to last night," Billups said Thursday.
He and the Pistons said he'd be a game-time call. Detroit leads the best-of-seven series 2-1.
"That's going to be a decision Arnie and him are going to have to make," Detroit coach Flip Saunders said. "If he's ready to go he's going to play. If he doesn't go it's more than likely that he's not going to be able to function at a high enough percentage to where it's going to matter if he plays or not."
The good news, Kander said, is it wasn't a high-velocity injury -- the kind that can cause a track sprinter to immediately seize up.
"This was just stretch-related," Kander said. "He went a little beyond his normal range. But you don't fear these as much as the ones that are speed-based."
Kander said the team wouldn't perform an MRI because it wouldn't provide any information.
"You can tell more by your hands," Kander said. "The fibers felt great. He was walking as he left the arena, walking normally. He was looking good. If he feels as good in the morning as he did last night, to me that's tremendous. Usually in the morning you feel really bad, and he didn't."
Kander said it also helped that the Pistons had two days between games, and were able to spend it in Orlando's 90 degree weather.
Nelson said he was preparing to face Billups again, though rookie Rodney Stuckey performed well in the All-Star's absence, scoring 19 points but dishing just two assists.
"That's a scary situation, because a lot of times when a team's best player is hurt other guys step up, kind of licking their chops, waiting for the opportunity," Nelson said. "NBA guys are going to be ready. Look at Stuckey last night, he came in and did a good job."
Immediately after Billups was knocked out, the Magic launched an 18-4 run to blow open an 18-point lead, at that point their biggest of the series. The Magic think they could've won even with Detroit at full strength, and Billups seemed to agree. Orlando hit 11 of 24 3-pointers and Rashard Lewis scored 33, breaking down the only defense that hadn't given up 100 points in the postseason.
"Yeah, I have a nice impact, but I tell you what man, that team, I don't know what could have stopped them last night," Billups said. "I don't even know if my presence could have helped. They played great."
Kander said Detroit would work Billups out Friday and Saturday to gauge his progress.
"We don't give a number, say 85 or 90 percent, because there's no way to classify that," Kander said. "When he can do everything he's capable of doing, then we'll give him the go-ahead to play."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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