- Brian James
ESPN Insider Brian James will provide scouting reports throughout the NBA Finals.
Keys in Game 2
San Antonio: It is hard to lose when your team is plus 33 points from the 3-point line. The Spurs knocked down 11 shots from beyond the arc in 24 attempts (the Pistons were 0-for-6). Detroit left Bruce Bowen wide-open, with Richard Hamilton leaving to double either Tim Duncan or Manu Ginobili. Rotations were slow getting back to Bowen, resulting in his 15 points and four 3s. Ginobili has dominated his matchup with Tayshaun Prince thus far. The Spurs gained 24 points in this spot, as Manu had 27 points. They also jumped out early by taking advantage of the Pistons' mistakes for run outs. They had great team defensive rotations both on the strong and weak side of the ball. Ginobili and Tony Parker scorched the Detroit defense making 12 of 15 shots by halftime. Detroit can't stop Manu or Tony from getting into the heart of the defense and pitching out to shooters with patience. It seemed like the second and third options were always there if needed. Coach Gregg Popovich drew up some great after-timeout plays. Since Detroit is trying to be aggressive and deny Manu, it sets up Prince for backdoor cuts and layups. San Antonio proved its aggressiveness by getting to the line more. By not moving the ball and not penetrating as much in the second half, the Spurs enabled Detroit to creep back into the ball game. But with 11 more 3s, 23 assists and more than double the amount of steals, blocks and free-throw attempts, it is easy to see how the Spurs won. Duncan's efficient night of 18 points and 11 rebounds was almost overlooked.
Detroit: The Pistons got off to an unusual start considering the magnitude of this game. Too many unforced errors resulting in turnovers and fast-break opportunities for San Antonio. Outlet passes after scores were stolen twice in a span of minutes. They also missed numerous free throws and shots from inside of five feet in the first half that allowed San Antonio to jump out to a 16-point lead by intermission. If fact, for the first 22 minutes of the game, Hamilton, Prince and Chauncey Billups had only one field goal combined. Early in the first half, the Pistons played mainly one-on-one on offense. Antonio McDyess' strong moves to the basket were about the only positives on offense. Defensively, the Spurs' 58 first-half points were the most allowed by Detroit in the last two postseasons as San Antonio's rim looked as big as a bushel basket. After falling behind by 20 early in the second half, due to poor shooting and, again, the failure to take care of the basketball, the Pistons finally found a renewed intensity to hang tough. They did this by attacking and driving with their best two players, Billups and Hamilton. The 10-2 run cut the lead to eight points but that was as close as Detroit would get. Having 20 more field-goal attempts and an 18-9 offensive rebounding edge doesn't help if you shoot a low field-goal percentage and don't make a 3 all night. The balanced scoring was there, but no starter had more than 14 points.
In his Game 3 scouting report, Brian James says the Pistons must be the aggressors and play smarter basketball.