Daily News

Speaking at a press conference to announce the creation of the Dave DeBusschere Cardiovascular Center at St. Vincent's Midtown Hospital, Stern defended the playoff schedule, particularly the decision to give the Nets and Pistons three off days before playing Game 7 Thursday at The Palace of Auburn Hills outside Detroit. Game 6 was Sunday night at the Meadowlands.

"I think it's great," Stern said. "It gives them the opportunity to get back into what passes for full strength this time of the year."

The league has been criticized for the length of its playoff rounds this season; by the time it's over, the Nets-Pistons series will have lasted 18 days.

Critics have also blasted Stern for changing the first round to a best-of-seven. Prior to last season, the opening rounds were best-of-fives.

"When you get seven-game series, you get a longer period of time to enjoy these players," Stern said.

Stern recently promised to limit the length of playoff rounds to 14 days starting next season. He also said there will be less waiting time between rounds. The Nets had seven days off between their opening-round sweep of the Knicks and Game 1 against Detroit.

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