For the second year in a row the Pistons won with defense as Richard Hamilton who was acquired in a trade with the Washington Wizards for Jerry Stackhouse led the team in scoring with only 19.7 ppg. However with Ben Wallace winning defensive player of the year for the second straight season it was good enough as the Pistons finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference at 50-32. In the playoffs the Pistons would get off on the wrong foot as they trailed the 8th seeded Orlando Magic 3-1 after 4 games. Had it been previous years the Pistons would have been finished. However for the first time the NBA decided to increase the opening round match ups to best of 7 series. Beginning with a 98-67 win at home in Game 5 the Pistons defense would take over shutting down league leading scorer Tracy MacGrady with their zone defense to come form behind and win the series in 7 games. The Pistons carried the momentum into the second round as they jumped out to a 2-0 series lead over the Philadelphia 76ers with 2 wins at home. However the 76ers would rally to win the next 2 games in Philadelphia to even the series at 2 games apiece. In a key 5th game at the Palace the Pistons found themselves down by 1 in the final seconds as Chucky Atkins lay up was swatted away by Derrick Coleman. However the play would be ruled goaltending and the basket would count giving the Pistons a crucial 78-77 victory. The Pistons would go on to eliminate the 76ers in 6 as Chauncy Billups exploded for 9 points in overtime in a 93-89 victory as the Pistons reached the Conference Finals for the first time in 12 years. In the Conference Finals the Pistons were held to 11 points in the 4th Quarter at home as the New Jersey Nets rallied to win Game 1 by a score of 76-74. In Game 2 the Pistons would allow another lead get away in the 4th as the Nets took a2-0 series lead with 88-86 win. After 2 heartbreaking losses at home the Pistons would not recover as they lost the next 2 games by double digits on the road as the Nets completed the sweep. Despite making it to the Conference Finals Coach Rick Carlise would be dismissed following the season as the Pistons hired Hall of Fame Coach Larry Brown.