Now, with the series tied 1-1 and headed to Detroit, we asked our experts:
Will this series come back to Los Angeles?
Momentum has now shifted to Los Angeles for one reason, and one reason only and that's Kobe Bryant. Considering what was at stake, the final seconds of Game 2 marked one of his all-time greatest performances. With his will and competitiveness, Kobe refused to let his team lose.
I don't think Detroit will win three in a row at home. The Lakers will win at least one game to bring the series back to L.A. for a game six.
Everyone thought of Detroit as a lesser opponent -- they're not. They're a very talented and well-coached team. In Game 1, the Pistons showed the Lakers that they'd have their hands full throughout the series. And they demonstrated that again in Game 2. Initially, I thought the Lakers would win the series in six games, but right now, it looks like it might go seven.
These two teams are very evenly matched. The Pistons have looked great defensively, and are showing they can score a little bit. And in Game 2, the Lakers showed that they can play a little bit of defense too. This series is coming back to Los Angeles.
Detroit was only 10.9 seconds away from heading home with a two-game lead, but because they decided not to foul in that situation, Kobe hit a miraculous three-point shot, and the landscape of this series completely shifted. Game 3 will be interesting. Sure, the Pistons will say they're happy to go home with a split series, but to be within seconds of a 2-0 series lead has to be disheartening.
Meanwhile, Game 2 gave the Lakers an added jolt of adrenaline. I would be shocked to see this series end one way or the other in Detroit, partly because it's never been done before. This series will come back to L.A.
Dr. Jack Ramsay
I wouldn't guarantee this series will come back to Los Angeles. Other than the fact that no home team has ever won three consecutive games in the middle of a finals series, I don't see any way you could say for sure. Although, from what we've seen thus far, I do think it's very likely we'll be back in L.A. for at least a game six.
The Lakers won Game 2 with tremendous contributions from their bench and role players. In Game 1, the Lakers' bench scored only four points and was out-scored by 15 points by the Pistons. Then in Game 2, their bench out-scored the Pistons' 19-10 -- that brings added confidence. Also, Detroit has no answer for Kobe or Shaq, which creates a lot of questions and challenges for the Pistons.
Offensively, the Pistons can't play any better than they did in Game 2 and lose. They dominated the boards 46-38, accumulated 19 offensive rebounds, and their backcourt combined for 53 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists, plus six free throw attempts. While they may be disappointed in the split, I expect them to win at least one, possibly two games at home.