Friday, June 15, 2007

Spurs Stomp Cavs into Ground

Cleveland's best game of the 2007 NBA Finals wasn't good enough. The San Antonio Spurs, the class of the NBA, won game 4 83-82 in what was the only remotely compelling game of the series. The game wasn't as close as the score indicated, not with Tony Parker attacking the paint relentlessly, and Tim Duncan crashing the boards (he finished with 15 rebs) to overcome a poor shooting night. The Spurs, as they have done every opponent this year and in years past, ground the Cavs down clinically and once again made LeBron James look human.

While questions of a Dynasty, in my opinion, should be reserved for teams who have pulled off back-to-back titles, the Spurs have a longevity that some great teams like the Rockets, Pistons, and Shaq-Kobe-lead Lakers did not. And don't even begin to think this team is finished. Tim Duncan is a young 31, and his game, premised on defense, rebounding, and footwork , should age well. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are just entering their primes, and you can bet the Spurs will find somebody worth keeping--my bet's some Euro--with their 28th pick in this year's draft.

The Spurs got it done--as always--with stifling perimeter and interior defense. LeBron's epic drives were met by 2 or 3 of the best defenders in league, and his teammates couldn't hit a jump shot to save their respective lives. Donyell Marshall and Damon Jones, formerly solid contributors, showed their age and as much as I like Daniel Gibson, he's not a true point and still has a long way to go. It seems that every Cavs player--maybe LeBron included, even--has some flaw that prevents them from working cohesively with their teammates. Whereas the Spurs are built perfectly: their talents accentuate and feed of each other's. Duncan's passing breeds good drives for Parker and Ginobili, for example. Oberto and Horry's rebounding give second chances that end up in the hands of lights out shooters like Michael Finley and Brent Barry.

Speaking of Finley, his acceptance speech was muddled and hilarious: he let out a King Kong growl and that game ball was glued to his hands, which doubtless, are huge and lend themselves to good shooting, unlike certain Cavs players, probably Larry Hughes, whose jumper makes me grimace.

The Cavs were worse finals opponents for the Spurs than either the Pistons--proven history-- and the Bulls, whose peak performance ability could probably have taken at least a game or two. Cleveland needs many a band-aid, but they have untradeable contracts and a plethora of decent parts that fail to add up to a good whole. It is worth noting, again, the greatness of the West; I am convinced that the Suns, Mavs, Jazz, and Rockets even would have beaten the Cavs in a 7 game series. That doesn't take away from Cleveland's excellent play against Detroit, but the Cavs would have been a 4 or a 5 out West and might not have escaped the first round. Last year's finals was better by a mile.

The Cavs need a good distributor not named Hughes to take the pressure off the Chosen one. The need 1 or 2 shooters who can do what Damon Jones did the past two years. Drew Gooden was solid, but they need more upfront, a slasher who can crash the boards. Would Phoenix take Gibson and Gooden--or another package-- for Marion? Marion and Lebron would get it done, and Marion could be a clear cut #2 in Cleveland. Phoenix could unload cap.

That would never happen, unless it were in the Cavs dreams. Just like an NBA title is only a dream with this flawed roster.

As for the Spurs? The most efficient and boring NBA team needs no further explanations. They are the best, and they will be the best, or among them, for the next 5 years.

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