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THE FINALS: SAN ANTONIO ROSE...AND ROSE
Jack McCallum
June 27, 2007
A SERIES THAT BEGAN AS A LOVEFEST FOR A LONE STAR FROM CLEVELAND ENDED IN REVERENCE FOR A TEAM FROM THE LONE STAR STATE
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June 27, 2007

The Finals: San Antonio Rose...and Rose

A SERIES THAT BEGAN AS A LOVEFEST FOR A LONE STAR FROM CLEVELAND ENDED IN REVERENCE FOR A TEAM FROM THE LONE STAR STATE

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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 night.

Meanwhile, Parker 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."

James finished 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.

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 Antonio?

Parker repeatedly 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.)

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