Sopranos preoccupation had circulated throughout the pregame atmosphere. James
eagerly talked about the show, searching, as he said, "for any excuse not
to talk about the game." He viewed Tony (Soprano, not Parker) as a
sympathetic character and said he hoped that the mob boss survived in the end,
perhaps feeling an attachment to one upon whom multiple forces seemed to be
closing in. The Spurs, meanwhile, were more involved with reality than
fiction—Ozmel Bowen, the second son of Bruce and Yardley Bowen, was born the
day before Game 2, an event witnessed and photographed by the San Antonio
forward, who then raced over to practice.
When Popovich was
asked before the game if he had any Sopranos thoughts, the Spurs' coach gave
his curt don't-ask-me-again response: "No." And he had to be pleased
with the way his team kept its mind on business...for 36 minutes, that is. Once
the lead neared 30 points, San Antonio seemed to lose interest—clanking shots
on offense, allowing open lanes and uncontested three-pointers on defense—as
the Cavaliers, led by James (who finished with 25 points) and Gibson, stormed
back to cut the lead to 95-87 with 4:53 left. Though Parker would finish with
30 points, Gin�bili with 25 and Duncan with 23, the real star was Robert Horry,
whose all-around play (five points on only three shots, plus nine rebounds,
four assists and five blocks) steadied the Spurs and enabled them to hold the
lead. Late in the game the 36-year-old veteran even dived full-length into the
San Antonio bench after a loose ball, upending Popovich, who later quipped,
"That's what I did best in my playing career—fall down."
The letdown was
disturbing but not altogether a bad thing—it undoubtedly gave Popovich a
motivational subject to discuss with a team that couldn't help but see itself
as almost unbeatable as it headed for Cleveland.
JUNE 12, QUICKEN
LOANS ARENA, CLEVELAND
SPURS 75, CAVALIERS 72
You can't say
Cavaliers fans weren't ready for their first Finals game in franchise history.
Guitarist Ben Harper delivered a fiery national anthem. LeBron James waved all
the fans to their feet, then smiled widely as the noise in the Q reached
deafening proportions. Ilgauskas ran over to shake the hand of former majority
owner Gordon Gund before the center jump. Jim Brown sat intimidatingly in the
front row, ready to throw a still-sturdy shoulder into any San Antonio player
who might happen by.
And then the game
The aspect of the
Spurs that opponents find most intimidating is that they can beat you two
ways—they can run you into the ground if you want to speed up and they can
grind you into a pulp if you want to slow down. They win pretty, they win
This win would
most assuredly be ugly.
sometimes that's the way you have to do it," said reserve guard Brent