Created Friday, 08 June 2007 15:14
Go Spurs Go
Written by Randy Watson
Strong Defensive Effort Downs Cavs, Spurs Take 1-0 Lead. Say it Loud and Proud, Go! SPURS GO!
San Antonio\’s Big Three were terrific. Cleveland\’s Chosen One, was terrible. Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili had their way against the Cavaliers and used a tremendous defensive effort to thwart LeBron James and his young upstart team in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, 85-76. After being off for a week since finishing the Utah Jazz in five games, San Antonio showed no signs of rust, starting off shooting 7-9 from the field, and taking a 5 point lead into halftime.
Cleveland never had an answer for Tony Parker, who was a one men wrecking crew throughout the game. He sliced and darted to the rim so many times, that the Cleveland defense, regarded as one of the best in the league, looked tired and slow all night. Parker led all scorers with 27 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds. He didn\’t shoot a three-pointer the entire game, instead choosing to slash and drive, and consistently knock down 15-foot jumpers.
Tim Duncan had another one of his patented playoff performances, scoring 24 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 blocks. Duncan\’s defensive performance was likely the highlight of the game. Time after time, when a Cavs player entered the lane, Duncan was there for a block or to cut off the lane to the basket. He also had two steals and went 4-5 from the free throw line.
Bruce Bowen, tasked with the most unenviable jobs of having to guard LeBron James, was magnificent in his effort. All night long, Bowen was in James\’ face, cutting off his way to the basket, and slowing him down just enough for help defense to arrive. James missed 9 of his first 10 shots, and didn\’t score his first basket until midway through the third quarter. James shot 4-16, and had 6 turnovers. He ended up with 14 points, most of which coming after the game was all but decided.
Although the Cavs did manage balanced scoring—5 players scored in double digits—their shaky defense and poor shot selection in the third quarter, allowed the Spurs to build a 70-52 lead. For a long period, the Cavs would come down and immediately shoot a three, only to have San Antonio rebound with a fast break score the other way. A couple of bright spots for the Cavs, would have to be the continued good play of Daniel Gibson (7-9 shooting, 16 points, in 27 minutes off the bench), and the aggressiveness of Sasha Pavlovic, an young player, who shot 6-12 for 13 points, and had no fear of driving to the basket again and again.
Despite the fact that the Cavs managed a mini-run in the 4th quarter which cut an 18-point lead down to as few as 8, the Spurs were in control from the tip, and the outcome was never really in doubt.