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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

San Antonio Versus Cleveland Preview

NBA Finals

San Antonio (58-24) vs. Cleveland (50-32)

Cleveland can win if…LeBron James plays at a Michael Jordan level, the Cavaliers hold their own on the boards and someone--perhaps Daniel Gibson or Sasha Pavlovic--steps up to make open shots whenever James is double-teamed.

San Antonio will win because…winning championships is what the Tim Duncan-era Spurs do. Duncan already owns three rings and three Finals MVPs and the only team that has beaten him more than once in the playoffs when he was fully healthy was the Shaquille O'Neal-Kobe Bryant Lakers.

Other things to consider: There is certainly the possibility that we are witnessing--to borrow a phrase--LeBron James' 1991 Michael Jordan moment. That was the year that Jordan's Bulls finally knocked off the Pistons and then beat Magic Johnson's Lakers in the Finals. Johnson was of course the dominant ring bearer of that era--winning five championships--but those 1991 Lakers were hardly in the same class as the title winning editions. James and the Cavaliers face a Spurs team that is arguably playing as well as any of the three San Antonio championship teams. It is asking a lot of James to lead this Cleveland team to a series win over this San Antonio team but if he does it will certainly be the stuff of which legends are made. This series has some intriguing subplots. Cleveland is basically "San Antonio East"; Cleveland General Manager Danny Ferry started his front office career with the Spurs and Assistant General Manager Lance Blanks, Coach Mike Brown and Assistant Coach Hank Egan all previously worked for the Spurs as well. Bruce Bowen will obviously draw the assignment of guarding James but Bowen has not had great success against James recently: Cleveland has beaten San Antonio three games in a row and James averaged 32.7 ppg in those contests. It is important to understand that the outcome of this series does not necessarily depend on Bowen holding down James' scoring; his job is to make James work hard for his points and to enable the other four Spurs to guard their men one on one without having to provide help. The Spurs survived some big scoring games from Amare Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer in previous rounds; they never worry too much about one man beating them as long as they are able to corral the spot up three point shooters and prevent any kind of dribble penetration that leads to easy points in the paint. The Spurs' nightmare is not a 40 point night by James but a 25 point, 10 assist night during which Gibson, Pavlovic and others shoot a high percentage from the three point line and/or get a lot of fast break layups off of turnovers.

posted by David Friedman @ 12:44 AM



At Wednesday, June 06, 2007 10:18:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anymous 2

the spurs is still an elite team so it wil be tough for lebron and cleveland to win they have to win both games in san antonio than 2 of 3 at home because game 6 and game 7 in san antonio will be super tough to win im telling you.

if there up 3 to 2 than they have a chance to win 1 game of 2 but if there down 3 to 2 the likely scneario there going home in 6 lebron will have to play like he did in game 5 in every game almost to win this series in 91 lakers were a shell of them selves compared to the late 80's lakers team and the bulls were better.

as you pointed out this spurs team is pretty good won not as good as 05 and 07 but still great that lakers team wasnt. spurs in 6

At Wednesday, June 06, 2007 10:30:00 AM, Blogger marcel said...

this is going to be a great series a defensive series why is lebron compared to jordan he plays like the big o not as good but if compared to anybody the big o not jordan they two totally diffrent players kobe plays like jordan not as good as well but if compared to anybody he plays like jordan. they need to know how to compare right the big o had alot of asists great scorer and asists man like lebron where jordan like kobe more of a scorer around 5 asists and reb per game STOP COMPARING LEBRON AND JORDAN not you david but these espn and other media idiots who continue to do it they play nuthing alike and magic was not the scorer lebron is so he doesnt play like magic either. the cavs will win the series the torch will be passed i expect lebron to make 7 of the next 10 finals and 5 rings as i predicted than he will retire as a top 3 player all time barring injury lebron will do what he did against detroit and pass when he has too and score when he does no doubt this is the beginning o f something special he is a great player and will be the one of the best ever

At Wednesday, June 06, 2007 4:35:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

One reason that I don't completely count out the Cavs (other than the obvious reason of James' greatness) is that Cleveland is a very good defensive team; therefore, I expect most if not all of the games in this series to be close and if the games are close then James may very well have an opportunity to take over in the fourth quarter. Of course, Duncan will likely have that same opportunity.

LeBron is fantastic--as I discuss at length in an article for NBCSports.com that you can find a link to in my next post--but I'm not sure that I'm on board for seven of the next 10 Finals and five championships. Let's see what happens in LeBron's first Finals and then let's see if the team gets complacent next year. Also, sad to say, injuries can play a role in these things, too. That said, I certainly don't think that this is LeBron's last trip to the Finals and I expect that he will lead Cleveland to a championship, though not necessarily this year.


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