Allen Iverson's debut with the Detroit Pistons wasn't the celebratory occasion the nine-time All-Star hoped it would be. His first game in Detroit as a member of the club figures to be another tough game.

After suffering their first loss in Iverson's debut, the Pistons hope his first home game in their uniform goes differently, though it won't be easy Sunday because they are facing the Boston Celtics in the teams' first meeting since last season's Eastern Conference finals.

Iverson has said the trade that brought him to Detroit (4-1) from Denver on Monday gives him the best chance of his 13-season career to win an NBA title.

The road to the championship could easily lead through the Celtics (5-1), who won their 17th title last season after offseason trades brought in Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.

The Pistons hope their acquisition of Iverson can yield similar results, but they struggled in his debut Friday night, shooting a season-low 37.3 percent from the field in a 103-96 road loss to New Jersey.

Iverson, whose first game was delayed while former Detroit guard Chauncey Billups completed his physical for Denver, had 24 points and six assists while shooting 6-for-12.

"It was a good feeling for me," said Iverson, the 2000-01 league MVP and a four-time scoring champion. "I haven't been able to play for a while so it was good to get back on the basketball court. I'll try to get a little bit of my rust off.

"Overall, it was a great experience for me. I felt fine out there, and we only can get better."

Detroit coach Michael Curry, who suffered his first loss as a head coach, said he wasn't worried about a long adjustment period for Iverson and the Pistons.

"I thought AI played really good. (He) moved the basketball, tried to do the things we wanted to do defensively and played within himself offensively," Curry told the Pistons' official Web site. "Those guys, they're good enough scorers, they'll figure it out. We had open shots - a ton of them - that we missed. I'll take that. We'll make shots, as I've said all along."

Iverson, though, has not done his best shooting at The Palace of Auburn Hills, where he's averaged 24.4 points while making 40.1 percent from the field.

The Pistons haven't lost there since dropping Game 6 of the conference finals as Boston wrapped up a trip to the NBA finals. Including that series and the regular-season series in which the Celtics won two of three meetings, the Pistons were held to 87.7 points per game and 42.7 percent shooting.

Boston's defense has been stifling this season, leading the league in opponent's field-goal percentage at 38.0. After giving up 30 points to Milwaukee in the first quarter Friday night, the Celtics outscored the Bucks 78-59 the rest of the way to win 101-89.

"When you get used to winning, you're like, 'We're going to get back in this game,'" said forward Paul Pierce, who had 18 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. "We've just got to settle down, play our brand of basketball and everything will be all right."

In two meetings with the Celtics last season, Iverson averaged 25.0 points and 6.5 assists.


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