Scouting Report: Spurs-Suns 3

Don't look for Joe Johnson to be a savior in Game 3, if he plays. Look for Shawn Marion to be more involved.

Originally Published: May 24, 2005
By Brian James | ESPN Insider
Keys in Game 2
Phoenix: Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire were simply amazing again. Nash was setting all-time playoff records for consecutive 25 point and 10 assist games, while making 8 of his first 9 shots. Nash continued to score and execute despite San Antonio changing their coverages on him at least four times. Stoudemire looked like a man possessed making his usual strong moves to the hole for close-in finishes and 37 points plus 8 rebounds. But there are a couple reasons why they're down 0-2 in this series. Execution down the stretch has been the big difference, as Marion's foul on Ginobili late in the shot clock at the end of the game showed. And Phoenix just has not been able to get San Antonio stopped in critical possessions late in the game. It is difficult enough to get all three stars stopped, let alone Robert Horry with his five championship rings. The inexperience and lack of depth continue to play a factor. Quentin Richardson scored 18 in Game 2, but Shawn Marion again scored below normal because he had to do so much more than score.

San Antonio: San Antonio did everything possible to keep Nash in check. They forced him towards the baseline into the big men when he had the ball on the wing. They trapped him coming off screens; they even switched with Duncan at times. Still, Steve burned the Spurs late in the game as Parker went under the high screen roll and Mohammed didn't show and just dropped and plugged the penetration. Nash responded with a 3. However, the Spurs are attacking Steve on the defensive end. Tony, you can tell, loves this quicker pace and is getting into the lane, finishing floaters, runners, and short jump shots. Nazr Mohammed has had two quick starts in a row, playing well as an option when the play breaks down. Every point Nazr gets early is one you don't have to manufacture from your stars. The bottom line is the Spur ball movement is so good, and when Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Parker all attack they are almost unbeatable. Then throw in the "X" factor and clutch shooting of Robert Horry. An example of this was the after-timeout play with 2:33 to play in the fourth quarter where "Pop" drew a play up that involved Manu zipper cutting into a high screen roll, throwing back to TD, then swinging the ball to Parker on the wing for a TP-TD wing screen roll. Then as Duncan rolled to the basket, Horry popped out for a snap-back return pass to the same side for the huge 3-point basket and a one-point lead. This was execution at its finest with the game in its balance. San Antonio then proceeded to score on its next four possessions in a row when Manu took over.