Strictly business (cont.)
Posted: Thursday June 7, 2007 11:45AM; Updated: Thursday June 7, 2007 12:44PM
3. LeBron won't be allowed to beat the Spurs all by himself.
James is an unstoppable player who can explode for 40 points on any given night, but the Spurs don't really care as long as the other Cavs don't get involved. San Antonio's philosophy has always been to play its system and not get caught up in changing defenses to stop one guy.
The Spurs will stay disciplined in their team concept. They will get back in transition. They will not leave shooters open to go double-team. In other words, they will not do what the Pistons did while letting the Cavs get open looks.
"LeBron is still going to score 20 or 25," Parker said. "We have to stop the other guys. We can't let Larry Hughes or [Daniel] Gibson or Zydrunas Ilgauskas score 30 points like Gibson did against Detroit in Game 6 because that's when you're in trouble."
4. Manu Ginobili is something wild.
At Wednesday's media session, Michael Finley was asked if teammate Ginobili was a wild card for the Spurs.
"I wouldn't see him as a wild card," Finley said. "I mean, he's a wild player, but I wouldn't see him as a wild card because he's an All-Star in my eyes."
Ginobili is, indeed, unorthodox with his herky-jerky style. But the 6-6 lefty from Argentina is, as Finley noted, a former All-Star who can put it on the floor or knock down shots from outside. Two years ago Ginobili tore up the Pistons to help the Spurs win the title. He arguably should have won the Finals MVP award that went to Duncan. Ginobili, who seems to be getting better as the playoffs go on, will be huge in this series as well.
5. Gregg Popovich is the master; Mike Brown is the pupil.
Brown and his staff have done a solid job getting the Cavs to the Finals. Most experts figured Cleveland was at least another year away. But Brown, 37, has never been in the lead chair for the Finals, when the adjustments must be made on the fly and head games come into play. Mavs coach Avery Johnson's lack of experience came into question in last year's Finals when he abruptly switched hotels in Miami after Game 3 and then suffered a confusing timeout snafu at the end of another game. It happens to young coaches.
Making his fourth Finals appearance in 11 seasons, Popovich already has seen it all. He and his staff just seem to know which buttons to push to get the Spurs going. One example: In 2003 the Spurs were struggling to score against the Mavs in the conference finals when Popovich turned to seldom-used reserve Steve Kerr. The then 37-year-old three-point specialist came off the bench and instantly started burying threes to goose the offense and provide the floor spacing the Spurs needed.
If LeBron and the Cavs find something that works, Popovich will more than likely find an answer. And if that doesn't work, he can always throw the ball to Duncan.