Early in the game
Duncan came over to help out on James and blocked his jump shot. James got the
ball back and now he was isolated one-on-one with the big man. But he couldn't
outjuke Duncan and get by him, so he settled for an off-balance perimeter shot
that missed. That play epitomized the difficulties James would have all
was consistently getting into the lane against the Cavs' defense, using screens
and his own change of speeds to break down the defense. Parker finished with 27
points on 23 shots, six more shots than Duncan, 11 more shots than Gin�bili.
But that was entirely acceptable to Popovich, a fact that speaks to Parker's
maturation—Pop wants Parker to take that many shots, if they are good ones.
Though the Spurs
seemed to be in control from the opening tip, they really didn't pull away
until a 13-4 run in the third period. James didn't score his first field goal
until 7:15 of that quarter, by which time San Antonio had the Cavs out of their
offensive rhythm. And at the other end, whenever Parker couldn't penetrate, he
simply got it into Duncan, who made impeccable decisions, demonstrating what
Brown called "his incredible sense of poise and pace."
with 14 points, and among his teammates, only rookie Daniel Gibson (7 of 9 from
the field) and Drew Gooden (6 of 9) showed signs of life.
James promised to
learn from Game 1—"I've always been good at making quick adjustments,"
he said—and no one doubted that he would be more formidable in Game 2.
JUNE 10, AT&T
CENTER, SAN ANTONIO
SPURS 103, CAVALIERS 92
Game 1s are used
"as a feeling-out process," as Spurs forward Michael Finley put it,
presumably leading to strategic adjustments in Game 2. So why did so much of
this game look like a replay of Game 1, only with even greater dominance by San
got loose in the lane, sometimes jetting by James, who had been assigned to
cover him because the Cavs figured that James's size advantage (6'8" to
Parker's 6'2") might bother the Frenchman. Duncan had his way in the pivot,
passing out of double teams and turning and shooting when single-covered. And
the San Antonio defense again suffocated James with Bowen's relentless energy
and considerable help from Duncan and everybody else. The Cavs did move James
around a bit more in this game, running him off picks and posting him up, but
it made little difference.
And, so, San
Antonio built a 58-33 halftime lead and an 89-62 lead after three quarters, and
any TV viewer who had decided to tune into a closely contested game in favor of
the much-ballyhooed final episode of The Sopranos had long ago regretted his
decision. (Unless he was a die-hard Spurs fan, of course.)