Tuesday , Jun , 07 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Keys to victory in the NBA Finals

By Warren Blatt, Sports Network NBA Editor

(Sports Network) – The 2005 NBA Finals will showcase two great teams. The
San Antonio Spurs and Detroit Pistons are efficient at both ends of the court
and are led by arguably the two top coaches in the league.

This year’s matchup pits the champions of the past two years. The Pistons
defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in five games in last year’s championship
round, while the Spurs knocked off the New Jersey Nets in six contests in the
2003 NBA Finals.

Matchups and strategies will constantly be changing in this series. Injuries
and foul trouble are just some of the things that can change the outcome of
the set. With Detroit’s Larry Brown and Gregg Popovich of the Spurs guiding
their respective clubs from the benches, this series could turn out to be a
classic chess match between two of the most successful generals in the history
of the league.

Here are some strategies and variables that could be advantageous for both
clubs.

PISTONS KEYS TO VICTORY
———————–

1. PREVENT MANU GINOBILI FROM DRIVING THE LANE – All-Star forward Tim
Duncan is going to get his points and rebounds, but Ginobili is the spark that
gets San Antonio’s offense moving. The All-Star guard is very effective when
he drives the lane, as he is an excellent passer and is able to find
Duncan for some easy hoops. By keeping Ginobili out around the perimeter and
not allowing him to penetrate, Detroit will take away some easy looks for
Duncan and at the same time will force the slick guard to have to earn his
points from the outside. The majority of Ginobili’s points are created from
his ability to penetrate and drive to the basket.

2. CONTROL THE BOARDS – Detroit has to limit San Antonio’s second chances on
missed shots. It has to own the defensive glass and must be ready to
take advantage of any offensive rebounds that come its way. This
will also allow the Pistons to be effective in transition and earn some easy
points. If the Pistons can accomplish this, it will help them control the
tempo of the game and they will be able to keep Duncan and Ginobili in check.

3. KEEP BEN AND RASHEED WALLACE ON THE COURT – The Wallaces need to be on the
court for Detroit, which cannot afford for either player to get in foul
trouble. The Wallaces will both get a chance to defend the smooth-shooting
All-Star Duncan. Rasheed Wallace tends to let his emotions get the best of
him, and it effects his play big time on offense and defense. Ben Wallace is
the Pistons’ catalyst on defense and is one of the best rebounders in the
league at both ends of the court. If Ben and Rasheed can avoid getting into
foul trouble, that means the Pistons are executing their game plan to
perfection.

SPURS KEYS TO VICTORY
———————-

1. GET TIM DUNCAN THE BALL – Duncan is shooting 48.3 percent from the floor
and is averaging a team-best 24.9 points per game in the playoffs. He entered
the postseason with a gimpy ankle, but battled through the pain and has
returned to his All-Star form. If the ball is in Duncan’s hands, the court
will open up for Ginobili and point guard Tony Parker. Duncan, who will draw a
double team every time he touches the ball, has a great touch around the hoop
and is money with his 12-foot bank shot. San Antonio’s offense goes through
Duncan and by getting him the ball it will make everyone else on his squad
more effective.

2. FORCE RICHARD HAMILTON TO WORK HARD FOR HIS POINTS – Hamilton is Detroit’s
go-to player on offense. He is one of the smartest players in the league and
knows how to work off the ball. The Connecticut product, who leads Detroit in
scoring (21.3 ppg) in the playoffs, will most likely be defended by San
Antonio’s defensive-stopper Bruce Bowen. The 33-year-old Bowen, who will turn
34 on June 14th, has to force Hamilton to spend a lot of energy trying to get
open for shots. Hamilton is one of the best at using screens, and if Bowen can
force him to have to create his own shot it would throw off the Pistons’
rhythm on offense.

3. TAKE RASHEED WALLACE OFF HIS GAME – Rasheed Wallace is a big weapon for the
defending champions on offense. He has the skills to score inside and from the
outside. The Spurs can frustrate the Detroit forward by working him
defensively. Whenever he is defending Duncan, the Spurs need to get their
All-Star forward the ball and make Rasheed Wallace work to stay out of
foul trouble. The Pistons’ forward is the type of player that gets agitated
easily and it effects his game on both ends of the court. Detroit is a much
easier club to beat if Rasheed Wallace is not playing well or is on the bench
with foul trouble. Taking Rasheed Wallace off his game would create a domino
effect for the Pistons.

DET SAN