Thursday, June 07, 2007

Finally the Finals – Game 1 Preview

We have finally reached the pinnacle of the NBA season with the Finals beginning tonight. While the heavily favored Spurs were making headlines for what seems to be the wrong reasons the Cleveland Cavilers may be doing the exact same. Not that anyone in a Cavs jersey is flopping or delivering blows below the belt rather the written word or broadcast news surrounding Cleveland is all about #23’s first ever trip to the NBA Finals. What seems to be overlooked by just about everyone is that this is not just LeBron’s first trip to the Finals it is Cleveland’s as well.

While LeBron’s team may struggle a little in the limelight James himself is used to it. Sure this is the biggest stage he’s ever played on but he’s been used to being the center of attention and having every eye on him since his Hummer driving high school in Akron, Ohio.

The Spurs have the experience factor on their side which is huge in the Finals but the Cavilers will have the best player on the floor and youth on their side which could turn into a significant advantage should this series go to six or seven games. Tonight’s game is all about sizing each other up and finding out about your opponent. I think it’s more crucial for San Antonio to win game one than it is for Cleveland because all the Cavs want to do is just win one of two in San Antonio before going home for three in a row.

What the Cleveland Cavilers will find out in Game 1
* Playing team ball will give them a chance to win this series – While all the talk will be about LeBron the Cavilers know that it was a team effort and not an individual who put them past the Pistons.
* LeBron James is the best player in the NBA – With all due respect to Kobe, Steve Nash, Dirk, Dwayne and Tim Duncan there isn’t a player who has put up an effort to match what James has done in the play-offs. While it was a team effort that put Cleveland in the Finals it was LeBron who set the team up for success and carried them when it was needed. No, he’s not the next Michael Jordan but he is the first LeBron James.

What the San Antonio Spurs will find out in Game 1
* Bruce Bowen cannot guard LeBron James - Sure they already know that but they are going to try anyway. Bowen gives up at least 40 pounds and a ton of athleticism to James. The Pistons defended him with a double-team and yet he still averaged 25.7 points, 9.2 rebounds and 8.5 assists in the series.
* Cheap shots won’t work against the Cavs – While they were able to get under the skin of the Suns with “dirty ball” it won’t work against Cleveland. It’s one thing to knee a guy in the groin who is smaller than you but I seriously doubt they’ll try that with the James. In fact, the intimidation factor may be on the other side in this series. The Spurs best shot at getting under the skin of the Cavs is to do what they do best, flop around on the floor.
* Karma stinks – To this point in the play-offs everything has gone the Spurs way. The NBA suspended the only referee who would stand up to Tim Duncan. The league also suspended two of the Phoenix Suns best players and to top it all off they had a Finals walk-thru with the Utah Jazz. What goes around comes around and it would be terribly frustrating if it started coming around during the Finals.

Game One Pick: Expect the Spurs to look rusty and the Cavs to look feisty in San Antonio’s four point win.

Share your opinions on the Finals in the NBA Finals thread at My Opinion on Sports Forum