Drive to the Finals Expert Pick: 5/20/08
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By Dave McMenamin

Deciding which Detroit Pistons player is the best is sort of like picking which Beatle was the most talented.

Oh, wait, it's actually nothing like that because The Beatles had a pretty natural delineation of John, then Paul, then George, then Ringo.

Maybe it's more like choosing the top member of TLC -- I'd have to say that T-Boz, Left Eye and Chilli were pretty equal.

I mean, really, how can you rank Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace? Like one of those cheesy crew t-shirts that say "Eight hearts beat as one" on the back, the Pistons' core four really is a unit rather than a collection of individuals.

Just check out the PRA totals for the quad and how close all of their production is to one another in both the playoffs and the regular season:

The Pistons "Big Four" P.R.A
Player Name Regular Season Playoffs
Chauncey Billups 26.5 24.5
Rip Hamilton 24.8 30.0
Tayshaun Prince 21.4 25.5
Rasheed Wallace 21.1 21.5

Before we try to split hairs and rank the Pistons top four, let's talk about Tuesday. There is one game: Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals in Boston.

The Experts saw this matchup coming from a mile away and consequently held on to all of the Celtics "Big Three" (ahem, if you still consider Ray Allen a member of that triumvirate) and all of the Pistons' "Big Four."

We're staying away from Boston in Game 1 regardless of whether we think they'll advance to The Finals or not because they are coming off an emotional Game 7 on Sunday and are due for a letdown.

So that leaves us with the Bad Boys Part Deux who are coming off a week's rest. And now it's time for the splitting of hairs.

First, we eliminate Mr. Big Shot from consideration because he's coming off a hamstring injury that caused him to miss the last two games of the Orlando series. He's a bit of a wild card at this point. Let him prove his health in Game 1 and if he's back to 100 percent, you pick him later on in the series.

Now it's down to Sheed, Fresh Prince and Rip.

Let 'er Rip.

Nothing against Rasheed or Tayshaun, but Hamilton is playing the hottest right now and PRA is slanted towards scoring. What's a better game -- 15 points and 10 rebounds or 25 points and one assist? In terms of overall basketball contribution, a lot of people would say the double double is better. But by PRA scale, it's not.

The choice is Hamilton because he's getting buckets. His PRA was 29.2 in the First Round and 31.0 in the Conference Semifinals but in his last two games it was off the chart as he averaged 31.5 points in Games 4 and 5 of the Magic series and an even better 38.5 PRA.

Hamilton might not be the best of the "Big Four," but he's at the forefront of the Experts' Picks on Tuesday.

Play Drive to the Finals Now!

Richard Hamilton, DETWhen: Tuesday, May 20 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Opponent: at Boston
Pts: 21.5 Reb: 4.8 Ast: 3.7
Playoffs Average PRA: 30.0
Yesterday's Pick: Chris Paul, NOH
Expert Pick Playoffs Total: 862
Expert Pick Archive
1. Rasheed Wallace, DET @ BOS (21.5 PRA)
2. Tayshaun Prince, DET @ BOS (25.6 PRA)
3. Paul Pierce, BOS vs. DET (27.6 PRA)
Zydrunas Ilgauskas got a boatload of open shots from the outside in the Conference Semifinals against Boston, those looks are now Sheed's and if he knocks them down, he could have a big Game 1. Prince is a guy whose defense usually gets his offense on track, so if Paul Pierce is giving him fits, his jumper might struggle. As for Pierce, he is coming off a heroic 41 points in Game 7 vs. Cleveland. That could mean he's found his rhythm and lightning is about to strike twice, or, as I see it, it could mean he's in for a letdown.
"So I creep, yeahhh, just keep it on the down low."
(D. Lippitt/EinsteinNBAE/Getty Images)

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