Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Spurs Outshoot Cavs, Lead Series 3-0

NBA Finals (Game 3)-- Spurs 75, Cavs 72

-- Basically, this game came down to outside shooting. Both teams were basically even in turnovers & free throw attempts, and the Cavs were the clear winner on the boards. Both teams attempted 19 3pts., but the Spurs made 10, the Cavs made 3. The Cavs had plenty of wide open looks from outside, but their shot were way off the mark all game. We mentioned time & again that the Cavs have to shoot above normal to have a shot vs. the Spurs, obviously 3/19 from 3pt. & 37% overall does not cut it.

-- This is why the Spurs are a championship team: Bron tries to drive for the tying score with :15 secs left but Bowen does a tremendous job sliding his feet to beat Bron to the spot, forcing Bron to spin into a helping Duncan, so Bron has to give up the ball to Varejao, who forces up an ill-fated turnaround runner. This tireless devotion to defense separates them above the rest. If only the Pistons could have executed & helped like that a few times in Game 5, they might be playing the Spurs right now. As good as Bowen & Duncan are defensively, I think this type of defensive play reflects back to the coach. If you want to execute this consistently on the defensive end, especially getting stops in late game situations, you have to have a coach who absolutely demands perfection on defense. A guy like Pop who can constantly motivate, and strike a little fear in his players if they screw up, is what makes a difference. You wonder why I cringe when I hear someone say Mike D'Antoni is a "genius".

-- Can't complain about the Cavs' defense, it was excellent for the entire game. The entire team gave great effort, moved their feet extremely well, and never let the Spurs get any type of consistent penetration. They switched things up by hedging hard on screens involving Parker, forcing him toward the timeline. Spurs were held to only 22 points in the paint & only shot 18/49 on their 2pt. attempts. Manu & Parker did very little damage in the lane tonight, the help rotations were great, especially from the Cav bigs. Though all this concentration on shutting down Spurs' penetration allowed the Spurs to get going from long-range.

-- Kinda amazing that the Spurs could win with their big 3 combining to shoot just 13/41 (31.7%) overall & scoring 34 pts after combining to score twice as much in Game 2. The Spurs were able to stay in the game with their aforementioned smooth outside shooting. Brent Barry gave the Spurs a nice lift off the bench with 9 pts all on 3-pointers.

-- And how 'bout Bruce Bowen? He was the MVP of the game today. Bruce was 4/5 from 3pt. land for 13 pts to go along with 9 rebs. But most important of all, was his world-class effort on Bron. Did a great job staying in front of Bron on many of his drives & just giving Bron a huge cushion on the perimeter. Bruce was huge on the Cavs' possession with 15 secs left & the score 72-70.

-- The Cavs got back to owning the boards tonight-- Clev. was +7 on the boards. They hit the offensive glass particularly well grabbing 15, mostly thanks to Big Z, who had 10 off. boards.

-- Bron had another ragged game where he was once again sidetracked by early foul trouble. Coach Brown looked to set Bron up on the block more often, but the Cavs could never gain much traction with this setup because they were not hitting their outside looks. So the Spurs' doubles on Bron were never taken advantage of. Bron's own outside shooting did not help matters, and it allowed the Spurs to continue to sag off him. Bron did lead the Cavs with 25 pts, 8 rebs, & 7 asst, but did still have an issue with TOs--he had 5.

-- The Cavs needed Big Z to step up his play after a lackluster Games 1 & 2, and Big Z answered the bell tonight. Big Z had a nice all-around outing where he hit jumpers, had some sweet old-school post moves, guarded Duncan well, and best of all, crushed the offensive glass--Z had 10 off. rebs for 18 overall.

-- The Cavs got decent input from some other role players as well. Drew Gooden was very active on the boards with 12 rebs (4 off), and chipped in with 13 pts mostly off of mid-range jumpers. Sasha Pavlovic came out very aggressive looking to attack off the bounce, and he ended with 13 pts. Eric Snow also gave the Cavs an understated lift in the 2nd half with solid defense & some savvy playmaking (5 assts). Though the one guy I have & many others have pushed to see more, Boobie, could not get his game going. Gibson had only 2 pts on 1/10 shooting; maybe he's more effective coming off the bench, and Brown should give the start to Snow in Game 4.

-- Cavs have just try anything they can think of in Game 4, why not this thing is done anyways. Try to run at every opportunity, put Big Z in the high post to run the offense thru him (very underrated passer), go supersmall with Marshall at the 5 in a lineup with 4 shooters around Bron, put in Pollard and see if can start a brawl & get some Spurs ejected. I mean might as well go out in a blaze of glory.


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