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By Jeff Dengate

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May 31 - Pick the biggest horse in your stable for tonight. Really, that's about all there is to it. Well, there's a little more, but not much.

With tonight being an elimination game for Detroit, you have to pick a Piston.

Today's Expert Pick
Player: Chauncey Billups, Detroit
Opponent: Miami Heat
Regular Season Averages

What's that? You're one of the few believers that think they can overcome a 3-1 deficit to the Heat in the Conference Finals and you want to save your Pistons for The Finals?

Hmm, well, a few figures lead us to believe the Pistons' run is coming to an end. Maybe I can convince you.

First, only four teams have ever overcome a 3-1 deficit in the Conference Finals or Division Finals -- as the penultimate round was known until 1971. All of those occurrences came before the NBA expanded the Playoffs to include 16 teams.

Second, Pat Riley-led squads are 11-0 when holding a 3-1 series lead.

Finally, Shaquille O'Neal has never lost a Playoffs series after winning the first game (25-0), which the Heat did in this round.

So, reasonable thinking leads us to believe Detroit's season will come to a close as early as tonight or Friday.

My thinking is it will be tonight unless either Chauncey Billups or Rasheed Wallace steps up in a big way tonight.

Before you go picking Wallace, however, you might want to reconsider going big. Miami has dominated the middle in this series. The Heat scored 50 points in the paint vs. Detroit’s 16 in Game 3. For the series, Miami has outscored Detroit 172-118 in the paint. Considering points make up a big chunk of a good PRA mark, the Rasheed, Ben Wallace or Antonio McDyess probably aren't the best route right now.

That leaves us looking at the backcourt of Billups and Richard Hamilton, or to Tayshaun Prince.

Billups puts up the highest PRA of the trio because he dishes more than six assists a night, but if you don't have Billups available because you took him in Game 7 of the Cleveland series, then Hamilton or Prince are safe picks today.

As for us, we're going with Mr. Big Shot, who's really been anything but that in these Playoffs.

Billups couldn't find his shot in the Conference semis vs. Cleveland, when he connected on only 37.7 percent of his attempts. Hitting for a better percentage against the Heat, Billups' three-ball now seems to have left him. Chauncey shot 4-of-5 from behind the arc in Game 3, but only 3-of-15 in the other three contests.

Regardless of his shooting woes, you have to believe Billups will do anything in his power to avoid going on summer vacation tonight. That means we should watch for him to be more aggressive early, attacking the basket and either drawing fouls or finding his teammates for open looks.

Of course, I could be wrong and Billups might put up a stinker tonight in Game 5. If that's the case, hopefully you've saved a few Heat players for The Finals because they'll be advancing.