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NBA Finals Preview
by Al McMordie - 06/02/2007
There's no doubt what the theme of the 2007 NBA Finals is: the new kids on the block against the old warriors. The new kids, of course, are the amazing Cleveland Cavaliers making their first NBA Finals appearance.
The Cavs embarrassed their nemesis, the Pistons, with a stunning and spirited 98-82 Game 6 victory. Detroit had been to five straight Eastern Conference Finals, but perhaps the torch has been passed to a new generation in the East. "I believe it was just our time," LeBron James said. "Something had to go right for Cleveland sports, something just had to go right."
It did, with the Cavs coming from 2-0 down to win four straight. The Cavaliers are only third team to come back from an 0-2 deficit in a conference finals, joining the 1971 Baltimore Bullets and 1993 Chicago Bulls. James is only 22-years-old but is one of the top players in the game. His incredible 48-point performance in Game 5 was unforgettable. In addition to the youthful James, the play of 21-year old rookie Daniel Gibson has also been stunning, with 31 points in Game 6.
His emergence is significant because the Pistons double-teamed LeBron leaving somebody open. Too often the Cavs simply haven't had any reliable outside shooting, but Gibson delivered. That's a strategy the Spurs will likely try, as well, though they are much better defensively than the Pistons (and much better coached). The Cavs have a tall frontcourt and outrebounded the Pistons 53-33 in Game 6, while holding them to 36 percent shooting. Yes, they look similar to the Spurs.
Ahh, the Spurs, the old warriors out West. They know what it's like to win a title, with Tim Duncan and Bruce Bowen around for championships in 1999, 2003, 2005 and now back in the Finals-saddle again. In fact, San Antonio is 3-0 in NBA Finals, even winning a Game 7 against Detroit two years ago. They also have home court. San Antonio is 38-12 SU, 28-22 ATS at home where they allow just 91 ppg. The Spurs allowed 44% shooting by opponents during the regular season, third in the NBA, and were No. 1 in the NBA allowing 89 points per game. Perhaps most importantly, for this series, is San Antonio's #1-ranked defense in guarding the 3-point shot. Cleveland won't get the open looks that they did against Detroit.
Unlike the Cavs, the veteran Spurs have been a sensational road team all season at 32-16 SU, 27-20 ATS. The Spurs will be shooting for their fourth NBA title in nine seasons and third in the past five. This will also be a series about DE-FENSE! When these teams met during the regular season, both games sailed under the total by 15 and 25 points.
The Cavaliers won both meetings, 88-81 and 82-78. In fact, going back to last season the Cavs are 3-0 SU/ATS the last three against the Spurs. This year's meeting in San Antonio was the second game of the season, and was a horrible spot for the Spurs since they came off a season-opening win at Dallas. The Cavaliers won 88-81 at San Antonio, and held the Spurs to 42% shooting. Both teams were horrendous from the free throw line missing a combined 28 freebies! LeBron had 35 points and 10 rebounds, as Bowen couldnt contain him, including an incredible dunk over Tim Duncan that made all the highlight films (one I'm sure we will see 20 times before Game 1).
On January 2nd the Spurs shot 38%, held the Cavs to 36%, but Cleveland won 82-78 because of a 38-28 fourth quarter! Yes, San Antonio led 50-44 going into the final quarter! James was the leading scorer for Cleveland with 19 points.
San Antonio will have had seven days of rest before Game 1. One point that will come up next week is that LeBron James might have to make a difficult decision between his personal and professional lives. James' girlfriend, Savannah Brinson, is due to deliver the couple's second son on June 17, the night of a potential Game 5 in Cleveland. When Brinson gave birth to LeBron James, Jr. in October 2004, James left training camp for several days. That time, Brinson was about a week late giving birth. If she's early this time and the Cavs are playing, there's a chance it could happen while the team is 1,000 miles away in San Antonio. King James will have plenty on his mind the next two weeks! Thatâ€™s quite a load for a 22-year old. Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.