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2003 NBA Finals: New Jersey Nets Keys to Victory

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(Sports Network) - On paper, the New Jersey are outclassed by their NBA Finals opponent, the San Antonio . New Jersey won 11 less games in a much less competitive conference. None of that matters now, as the games are decided on the floor and the have won 10 straight postseason contests to get to this point. This will be the toughest series New Jersey has encountered thus far, which is only fitting with the NBA title on the line. If the are going to knock off the , who are a 3-1 favorite according to Vegas, there are certain steps along the way that can't be ignored. 1.) CAPTURE THE OPENING GAME - When a team has won 10 straight games, the last thing it wants is a long period of inactivity. This is the first battle the must win -- shaking off the rust in a hostile environment. If San Antonio jumps on them early and keeps its foot on the ' throat, New Jersey will have a tough time keeping itself in the series. 2.) KEEP KENYON MARTIN OUT OF FOUL TROUBLE - Byron Scott has to keep Martin on the floor if he wants his team to have a shot at glory. Scott will probably use Martin to check instead of . If Martin were left to account for Duncan, he would likely find himself in early foul trouble. Martin will be much more effective as a help defender on Duncan from the weak side. Scott will throw , , and heck, he may even dust off for his fouls if nothing else. Basically, if you double Duncan, he's still going to get 20 points, while his teammates get wide-open looks. If you play him straight up, he's going to get 30-plus. Which strategy Scott employs and how his players execute it will be the primary determining factor in the series. Scott is a Pat Riley disciple, which means he hates to double anyone. He may have no choice this time around, and false bravado could earn his team and early tee time. 3.) HIT THE BOARDS - New Jersey has to get its running game going, and that starts with rebounds. Dallas did a great job of gang rebounding in Game 5 of the West Finals, and the should take a page from that book. Martin and Collins will get their boards, as will Kidd who is the best rebounding guard in the Association. The rest of the have to get in on the act as well, the way , and did in Game 5. "I don't care how great you are on the defensive end, if we rebound and defend, you're not going to stop us from running," Scott said. "We've done it for eight straight games. We have four more wins in us." The NBA Finals begin Wednesday night at SBC Center.

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