Thursday , Jun , 03 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Keys to victory in the NBA Finals

By Warren Blatt, Sports Network NBA Editor

(Sports Network) – There are many things that can change the outcome of a
best-of-seven series, especially in the NBA. The Los Angeles Lakers and
Detroit Pistons will battle in the finals for the right to hoist the
championship trophy.

Different scenarios will play it out in this series. Injuries, foul trouble
and technicals are just some of things that can change the outcome of the
set. However, both teams will have a plan as to what they need to do
to be victorious. Detroit head coach Larry Brown and Lakers’ general Phil
Jackson will match each other move-for-move and will be ready to react
to any situation that arises.

This series could turn out to be a classic chess match between two of the most
successful coaches in the history of the NBA. Here are some strategies that
could be advantageous for both clubs.

LAKERS KEYS TO VICTORY
———————-

1. GET BEN WALLACE IN FOUL TROUBLE – The Pistons will use different players to
guard Shaquille O’Neal in the finals. When Ben Wallace, who is the key to
Detroit’s defensive schemes, is guarding Shaq the Lakers need to get the ball
into the center and allow him to go right at Wallace. O’Neal, who is 7-1 and
weighs 340 pounds, should be able to push Wallace, who checks in at 6-9, 240
pounds, around and force him to commit fouls. Getting Wallace into foul
trouble and forcing him to the bench would not only hurt the Pistons on the
court but it would also damage them emotionally.

2. KNOCK DOWN OPEN JUMPERS WHEN SHAQ IS DOUBLE-TEAMED – Detroit will double-
team Shaq every time he touches the ball down low. O’Neal will be able to pass
the ball out of the low post to his teammates for open jumpers. If the Lakers
hit a high percentage of their open shots, than the Pistons will have another
problem on their hands. Efficiency on offense by LA will create problems
defensively for Detroit, which will have to adjust its game plan and will
think twice about leaving a Laker open for a jumper. The Lakers’ will make
Shaq’s job a hole lot easier if they show Detroit that they are going to drain
a high percentage of their shots from the outside.

3. SCORE IN TRANSITION – The Lakers need to score as much as they can in
transition. This will prevent the Pistons from setting up their defense and it
will give LA an easier flow offensively. If the Lakers can get out on the
break and run on the Pistons, than LA will force Detroit to be playing from
behind which will cause the Eastern Conference squad a lot of problems.

PISTONS KEYS TO VICTORY
———————–

1. LIMIT THE AMOUNT OF TOUCHES SHAQ GETS AROUND THE BASKET – Detroit needs to
deny Shaq the ball. The Pistons want to try to force LA to beat them from the
outside. If O’Neal gets the ball in the low post he is unstoppable. The
Pistons should look to force the Lakers to have to take the jumper instead of
dumping the ball down low to their center. With LA being forced to fire up
jumpers, it will allow the Wallaces to avoid picking up unnecessary fouls. If
Shaq doesn’t have the ball than the Pistons don’t have to double-team him, and
that will allow Detroit to spread its defense and contest all off LA’s shots.

2. CONTROL THE BOARDS – Detroit must outrebound the Lakers on both ends of the
court, which will allow the Pistons to control the tempo of the game and
prevent LA from getting second shots at the basket. If the Pistons can
accomplish this, it will help them avoid getting into foul trouble and it will
also keep the score in a range that benefits the Eastern Conference
representative.

3. GET TAYSHAUN PRINCE INVOLVED OFFENSIVELY – Tayshaun Prince is a huge factor
in this series. Prince, who has averaged 9.9 points and 5.7 boards in the
postseason, should be able to hold his own against Devean George and the other
defenders that will check him in this series. The Kentucky product needs to
continue to play tough defense, but he must increase his offensive production.
If Prince can get going offensively, it will take a lot of the pressure off of
Detroit’s top-scorer Richard Hamilton, who is going to have his hands full
with Kobe Bryant.

DET LAL