The moment we’ve all (read: David Stern) been waiting for came and went last night, as the Cavs and Spurs opened up a multi-act drama on the NBA’s biggest stage, with Team Fundamental taking round one, by 9.
Where do I begin with this one? Well, the main thing everyone wanted to see was whether the league’s Anointed One could carry his water-into-wine-and-gold routine in the Lone Star State. Everyone was clamoring about how huge this was for LeBron and how “Jordanesque” this whole playoffs has been for him.
If you’ve read my recaps before regarding Cleveland, then you know what my first beef is going to be about, the perpetual (and annual) LeBron media cuddle-fest that inevitably makes the opposing squad an afterthought. However this year, most NBA insiders woke up and realized that this Cleveland team has you know, other players and stuff. Not only that, but this squad is NOT what everyone (even You David Stern) is hoping they are. Has everyone forgotten how they struggled, yes STRUGGLED to beat a Wizards’ team without its two best players? Even Big Z gave the Wiz props afterwards, saying that they couldn’t put Jamison and Co. away in games until the very end.
The Spurs have an all-star power forward that can keep his cool under pressure (unlike Detroit), have guards and swingmen who get the job done in the clutch (unlike the Nets) and have their star players healthy and playing actual certified defense (unlike the Wizards).
For most of the first half, Pop showed off his defensive attack, making sure LeBron had two white jerseys escorting him down the floor as SOON as he walked over the “S” in the Spurs floor logo. It worked, Bronny was frustrated, and had to rely on Larry Hughes (!) and Sasha Pavlovic (13pts. 5rebs) for offense. I know most people have mentioned “Boobie” Gibson as an X-factor in this series, but if Sasha P wasn’t on the radar before this game he is now. For the life of me, I can’t remember him in Utah, but this guy has stepped his game up.
You couldn’t tell me Timmy didn’t have the taste of freshly dunked Spalding in his mouth from last November, when LeBron crammed on him, with Duncan (24pts, 13rebs, 5 “no-soup-for-yous”) having a fiesta-style block party. I haven’t seen the Big Boring this active defensively in a while, and it was a scary reminder for the Cavs that he’ll fry you on offense AND defense.
The crunkest French rapper ever, Tony Parker (27pts, 7ast, and 16 bars of hot fiya) went Bastille, exposing Larry Hughes for the feast-or-famine guy he really is. As a Wiz fan, I’ve seen him up close and personal, and trust me; he’s scheduled to hurt himself/shoot Cleveland out of a game sometime before this series is over. Parker went right after Larry’s ankles every time he saw number 32 on him, with insane results. Tony had eyes in the back of his head, while it looked like Drew Gooden (14pts) had…I dunno, an armpit in the back of his. Rowdy Roddy Bowen wasn’t dirty, but he did get his hack on, just as Manu-Manu (16pts, 8rebs, lotsa flops) had a personal flopping battle with Anderson “Carlito” Varejao (10pts, 4rebs 1 Backcracker!). The Cavalier bigs did just enough, but in the second half, it was a wrap, with LeBron (14pts, 7rebs, countless disappointed “witnesses”) finally getting his scoring rhythm at the end.
The Cavs bench was more productive, but one thing I couldn’t figure out was why Coach Brown hasn’t decided to start Danny Gibson (16pts, 4ast) yet? He’s the only guard the Cavs have that can stay in step with Parker and he can shoot the lights out. He’s Billups Lite out there and he didn’t get to show his stuff until the Spurs had the game in hand.
Game 2 will be interesting, but since the NBA is slowly creeping into being as predictable as WWE, look for these things:
- LeBron getting the D-Wade treatment from the refs
- Gooden and Carlito hammering Duncan into submission
- Cleveland giving Tony P the Lakers Playoff Treatment when he goes into the lane
- The Cavs possibly stealing game 2