Scouting Update: Pistons vs. Pacers

Updated: May 28, 2004, 4:42 PM ET
By Brian James | Special to ESPN Insider
Pistons' plus-minus breakdown | Pacers' plus-minus breakdown

Brian James, a former assistant coach with the Pistons, Raptors and Wizards, spent the 2003-'04 season scouting for the SuperSonics. Insider tapped his NBA expertise to break down each playoff series.

There's a perception that the Indiana-Detroit series has been an ugly affair. I think it is quite the contrary. What you have are two teams that are so well prepared and know the other so well that two of the best defenses in the NBA are now even better. That's why every possession is so critical.

All three games have been decided by a great play in the final minute or so. Game 1 was Reggie Miller's 3-pointer, his only basket coming off a Jermaine O'Neal pin-down screen. Game 2 was Tayshaun Prince's block on Miller's layup attempt.

Game 3 was Richard Hamilton's basket as the shot clock ran out to keep Detroit in the lead, and Rasheed Wallace's 3-point play after Indiana had cut the deficit to one. The decisive play was Ben Wallace's offensive rebound basket with 30 seconds remaining. (And what's up with Ben? Another outstanding shooting performance for Ben -- 7 of 8 from the field -- has changed many minds about not having to guard him.)

Coaches believe the first team to 100 points will win most NBA games. Since both these squads have such great defenses, Pacers coach Rick Carlisle has said the first team to 70 will win in this series.