4:30 PM ET, October 5, 2008
The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI
The San Antonio Silver Stars entered their first WNBA finals hoping to contain Detroit Shock guard Deanna Nolan. Though they've done an admirable job on that front, they haven't had any answers for Katie Smith.After leading Detroit to back-to-back road wins, Smith looks to help the Shock complete the sweep and win their third championship in six years as they host the Silver Stars in Game 3 of the finals Sunday at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Mich.Nolan led Detroit in scoring (15.8 points per game) and field-goal percentage (46.5) during the regular season, making her the clear focus of the San Antonio defense in the first two games of this series. The eighth-year guard out of Georgia has been affected by the pressure, averaging 11.0 points and going 8-for-24 (33.3 percent) from the field.The Shock, however, have a commanding 2-0 lead as the series heads to their home territory. That's largely due to the success of Smith, who has led the team in scoring in each contest. She had 25 points and went 8-for-17 in Detroit's 77-69 victory in Game 1 on Wednesday, then scored 22 and shot 9-for-16 in a 69-61 win on Friday."You want to find a way to win, whether it's pickup or a game here," said Smith, who added five rebounds and six assists in Game 2. "You just try to stay aggressive. I just tried to stay in that attack mode."Smith's performance has even impressed demanding Shock coach Bill Laimbeer, who has the team on the verge of its third WNBA title in six years. Detroit won championships in 2003 and 2006 before falling short against Phoenix in a deciding Game 5 of the finals last year."I expect so much from Katie Smith," Laimbeer said Friday. "And this is two games in a row where I actually had to compliment her on going over and above the call of duty. She played phenomenal. She wanted the basketball once again, and two games in a row, her will to win the game is what carried us."The Silver Stars are just as aware of Smith's impact on the first two games of the series."Katie Smith is killing us," San Antonio guard Becky Hammon said. "And she's facilitating a lot of people."It's been a very disappointing start to the series for the Silver Stars, who won a franchise-record 24 games during the regular season to claim the league's best record. San Antonio was 14-0 against teams in the Eastern Conference and 18-3 at home before dropping the first two games of this series at AT&T Center."It's a tough loss," Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes said after Game 2. "But this is a very resilient group. It stings, but it's not going to put us down."Hughes doesn't think his club's lack of finals experience has much to do with its struggles against the playoff-tested Shock."I'm not a rocket scientist, but I think it's about playing good basketball," he said. "We haven't played good enough basketball yet. ... We're not real good on excuses here, and we've won enough that we take ownership. We will be open-minded about what Game 3 will bring."Game 4 of this series, if necessary, will be Monday night at The Palace of Auburn Hills.