Chauncey Billups; Photo: Daniel Mears/Detroit News

In the second round of the NBA Playoffs tonight, the Nets take on the Detroit Pistons (game time is 8 p.m. on TNT). The two teams were even during the regular season, going 2-2 in head-to-head games. New Jersey comes into the series winning 14 straight Eastern Conference playoff games, including a sweep of the Knicks this season and the Pistons last year in the conference finals.

With improvements on both the Nets and Pistons, both teams know that this series will be different than last year. The Pistons acquired Rasheed Wallace at the trade deadline this season and went 20-6 after he joined the team. In their one game since the Wallace trade, the Pistons beat the Nets, 89-71. That game ended the Pistons' record-setting streak of holding opponents under 70 points at 5 games, which the Pistons were not happy about. The Nets were fouling in the final moments of the game to get the ball back and scored a basket with 1.1 seconds left to give them 71 for the game.

Gothamist thinks it could be an excellent series, with interesting match-ups and physical play. The budding Tayshaun Prince vs. the dynamic Richard Jefferson, two intense players in Ben Wallace and Kenyon Martin, floor leaders Chauncey Billups and Jason Kidd, and the man the Nets have no answer for, Rasheed Wallace. We don't typically get too excited for NBA action since it's not that fantastic anymore, but this series is as good as the Eastern Conference gets. The Times has three keys to the series.