SAN ANTONIO (AP) – The San Antonio Spurs have a 2-0 lead over the Detroit Pistons in the NBA finals, and they have history on their side: only two teams have overcome such a deficit to win the championship, the last time nearly three decades ago.

But the Spurs also have some recent history of their own to overcome.

Just last year, with essentially the same group of players, San Antonio made the Los Angeles Lakers look old and slow at the SBC Center in the first two games of their second-round series. But the Lakers were rejuvenated at home, and four games later they were in the conference finals while the then-defending champion Spurs were on vacation.

Beginning Tuesday the next three games will be played in Detroit, where the Pistons have lost only twice in nine postseason games. They have averaged 95.4 points in those contests, compared to 72.5 points in the two finals games in San Antonio.

“Winning in their arena is very hard,” said Manu Ginobili, the Spurs’ high scorer in both games. “So we’ve just got to be patient and try to get to the last quarter tied, two points down or two points up, and put the pressure on them.”

The Pistons have proven this postseason that they can dig themselves out of holes. They were down 2-1 to Indiana in their second-round series and they trailed Miami 2-1 and 3-2 in the Eastern Conference finals before winning the final two games to advance.

The challenge is well-defined: Only the 1969 Boston Celtics and the 1977 Portland Trail Blazers have gone on to win the finals after being down 0-2.

But San Antonio has a challenge, too: keeping up the intensity on the road after dominating so thoroughly at home.

“It gets more difficult after a win to come back and understand how that subconscious sort of complacency can set in, even if you say all the right words and think you’re doing the right thing,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after Game 2. “You have to keep an appropriate fear of your opponent.”

The Spurs felt good about their chances last year after the first two games against the Lakers, both of them 10-point victories. Tim Duncan averaged 27 points and Tony Parker 25 points in those games, which followed the same pattern as the two wins over the Pistons – a fourth-quarter comeback in Game 1 and a jackrabbit start in Game 2.

But Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal together averaged 60 points in the next two games and Los Angeles evened the series. San Antonio rallied from 16 down in the second half of Game 5 at home, but lost 74-73 when the Lakers’ Derek Fisher made a no-look heave at the buzzer.

“Right now, thinking about next season, that’s all I can do,” Duncan said after the elimination game at the Staples Center. “We need some pieces. There are going to be some changes, I would guess.”

There were indeed changes to diversify the Duncan-reliant offense, but they came from within.

Parker (16.6 ppg this season) got better in his fourth season and Ginobili (16 ppg) blossomed into an international star by first leading Argentina to Olympic gold in Athens and later by showcasing his flamboyant, full-ahead style.

with the Spurs.

Ginobili has averaged 26 points in the first two finals games, while Duncan has averaged 21 points and 14 rebounds.

Bruce Bowen, who made four 3-pointers Sunday, said the Spurs need to keep doing in Detroit what they did at home.

“We really have to come out with the mind-set that, Hey, we can’t cut steps. We have to pay attention to detail and really execute the game plan the coaches have for us,”‘ he said.


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