WALTHAM, Mass. Doc Rivers wants his players to start listening to Pistons forward Antonio McDyess.
It wouldn't hurt if they started guarding him, too.
McDyess had his best game of the postseason in Detroit's Game 4 victory over Boston, then reminded his teammates that they can't afford to squander an opportunity to win a championship. A day later, Rivers cited McDyess and suggested that the Celtics could also learn from his message.
"I think the veterans really get that. I think the young ones always think there's another opportunity," Rivers said after practice on Tuesday. "The whole thing is to show them how close we are, the sense of urgency they have to have. Because the other team has it."
McDyess had 21 points and 16 rebounds both playoff highs to lead the Pistons to a 94-75 victory over the Celtics on Monday night and even the Eastern Conference finals at two games apiece. The best-of-seven series returns to Boston on Wednesday night for Game 5.
"(McDyess) knows that you can't take any of this for granted," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "Some of our guys have been in six straight conference finals, which is an amazing achievement, but for some of our guys, this is the first time.
"Dice knows that, at this point of his career, it could always be his last. And all our guys need to realize that. You can't just expect there to always be a next time."
Celtics forward Paul Pierce, who made just 3 of 14 shots on Monday night, passed along the same message to his teammates.
"We don't get this opportunity too much in our careers," he said after practice. "We have to go out and play like it's our last, because you never know when this is going to happen again. ... We have to find some way, somehow to get a win at home and bring that momentum back to Detroit."
Being at home was a considerable edge for the Celtics in their first two rounds, when they advanced without winning a single game on the road. Detroit swiped home-court advantage with a victory in Boston in Game 2, but the Celtics took it back by winning Game 3.
Despite a bad Game 4 for the trio of Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, at least the Celtics know they do not have to win in Detroit again to eliminate the Pistons. But they no longer have the security blanket of that perfect home record.
"They never panic, especially Ray, Paul and KG. They're always poised," center Kendrick Perkins said. "They never talk negative, even after the loss they stayed positive. It was like, 'Don't even worry about it. We aren't losing any more games at home."'
The Celtics shot just 32 percent from the floor on Monday night, with the Big Three making just 11 of 38 shots, and kept it close only by making 32 free throws to 20 for Detroit.
"It is rare when all of them are missing shots," Rivers said, adding that the Celtics went to the line so often they never got into a shooting groove. "They had the old Pat Riley idea that if you foul enough, they're going to stop calling half of them. And it's true."
The Celtics spent a lot of time studying film on Tuesday afternoon, and Rivers walked them through some defensive and offensive situations. Saunders liked the way his players responded after he gave them an off-day before Game 3, so he gave them another.
The rest could benefit Pistons point guard Chauncey Billups, who scored 10 points with seven assists as he works himself back into form after being out for two weeks with a strained right hamstring.
"I think his leg is fine; I think he just needs to get his timing back. If you notice, he's playing better late in games, and I think some of that is just from getting into a rhythm," Saunders said. "It isn't about how he plays, it is about how the team plays. When we lose, it is going to be his fault, and when we win, he'll get the credit. That just goes with being a point guard."