Since Tony Parker finally earned Gregg Popovich’s trust, he’s gone slam off on everybody! He is completely confident that no guard in the Lig can stop him. He’s much, much stronger than anyone thinks he is, because, outside of Allen Iverson and Dwayne Wade, Parker hits the floor more than anyone in the NBA.
After a Game One strafing by Parker, Mike Brown chose to force Parker to hit jumpers. Brown and his staff of ex-Spurs coaches forgot that Popovich knew that would be the Cavs’ major defensive change (I can see Parker taking extra jumpers after practice between Game One and tonight). So what happened? Parker burned Cleveland by getting LeBron James in foul trouble with 2:55 gone in the first quarter and hitting jumpers. Then, as soon as Larry Hughes or Eric Snow began to respect Parker’s “J”, Tony went into whirling-dervish mode and drove to the rack at will.
Because of Parker’s leap to the Popovich University Graduate School program for point guards, the Spurs don’t get the jitters when they miss a ream of shots like they did in the first quarter of tonight’s game. Up 16-5 early, San Antonio starters missed seven shots in a row and Cleveland closed the gap to 16-13. No problem. The Spurs answer with a 12-0 run – and the game was never close thereafter.
There’s no real reason to further describe the ensuing beat down the Cavaliers received. Yeah, yeah Mike Brown complained about the refs – why I do not know, his team shot 29 freebies, three more than San Antonio. Yeah, yeah Cleveland outscored the Spurs 30-14 in the fourth quarter. They still lost by 11. All that did was give Popovich ammunition for tomorrow’s film sessions.
So, what does Cleveland do down 2-0 and going home for three games?
First, Brown needs to stop crying about the refs:
Ginobili hit a 3-pointer as he was fouled by rookie Daniel Gibson. The four-point play made it 101-89 with 2:24 remaining.
“That was a heck of a play and a heck of a shot by Manu,” Cavs coach Mike Brown said. “He tricked our young fella and leaned right into him.”
No Mike. Gibson jumped right into Ginobili. The problem is, five years ago brushing another player after the shot left the shooters’ hand wasn’t a foul. In the “new” NBA, it is – so deal with it.
The Cavs need to realize that San Antonio is the first team of players – except for Jacque Vaughn – who are unafraid to stand in front of the bull in a china shop that is LeBron James and do some cutting to the basket. This way James can stop short and dish instead of feeling he must somehow split a lane clogged with three, sometimes four defenders.
Then, the Cavs need to do with Parker as the Spurs do with James.
Yes, I said it. The Cleveland Cavaliers need to take away something and that something is Tony Parker’s ability to penetrate into the lane – at any cost. Parker showed he can make jump shots, so Brown must devise a way for Hughes or Snow or James to force Parker to drive and then commit three defenders to stopping him. Then the Cavs need to rotate with a vengeance…. and pray that Tim Duncan doesn’t score 40.
In other words, Cleveland’s only chance at winning games in this series is for James to find his jumper or post up in the lane and become an offensive facilitator by passing out of double teams from the low block.
Or pray that San Antonio lets up.
The Spurs are that much better than Cleveland, so much better that, short of a drastic change in the Cavs offensive philosophy, the Spurs must lose a game for the Cavs to win. All things being equal Cleveland has no chance to win even one game.
And to think that between 2002 and 2003 San Antonio tried mightily to procure Jason Kidd. Parker would have been relegated to the bench or traded.
Now Professor Parker is dissecting Cleveland and is halfway to his third ring – and the 2006-07 NBA Finals MVP.