On This Date in Sports January 29, 1988

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The Detroit Pistons beat the Boston Celtics 125-108 in front of a record crowd of 61,983 at the Pontiac Silverdome. It is the first meeting in Detroit between the two rivals that staged a classic seven-game battle in the Eastern Conference Finals last spring. The Pistons effort is led by Adrian Dantley and Joe Dumars who score 22 and 20 points respectively, while Vinnie Johnson scores 19 points off the bench in the win.

The 1987 Eastern Conference Finals was one of the great series in the history of the NBA, as the Boston Celtics punched their ticket to the NBA Finals for a fourth straight year, but needed seven games, as the Detroit Pistons showed they were on their way of taking over the top spot in the East. The two teams once again were at the top of the Eastern Conference, with the Celtics holding a record of 30-11 while the Pistons were 23-13 entering the game. The Celtics had won a previous meeting in Boston 143-105 on January 13th.

The Celtics had gotten a big game from Larry Bird, who led all scorers with 25 points, but thanks to their defense of Dennis Rodman he scored just three points in the final quarter when the game was on the line. Kevin McHale also had 20 points for Boston, but bench play ended up being key for the Pistons in their 125-108 win as Vinnie Johnson showed why he is called the microwave with 19 points. Detroit also got ten points off the bench from John Salley and Rodman.

The Celtics would go on to finish the season with a record of 57-25, while the Pistons finished 54-28. The teams would meet in the Eastern Conference Finals again. This time it would be the Pistons winning the series in six games as they advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time since moving to Detroit. The Pistons would lose in the NBA Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games. They would rebound and win two straight NBA Championships in 1989 and 1990.

The Pistons would leave the Silverdome following the 1988 season, as they opened a new arena in Auburn Hills. The Pistons record crowd would stand for a decade before it was topped by the Atlanta Hawks for a game against Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls at the Georgia Dome in 1998.