Sunday, June 10, 2007

Game 2. Can the Cavs Rebound?

Sorry to keep you waiting McBoners, but here comes N8's analysis of game 1 and what the Cavaliers will have to do to win game 2.

Nerve factor. In a way, game 1 was predictable. The Cavs looked tight and tentative for much of the game, except for a stretch in the first half (when they very briefly took the lead) and in most of the fourth quarter. At one point LeBron missed a three that would have brought them back to within 5 points. So look for LeBron to be loose and watch the Cavs follow his lead.

Larry's heel. Larry Hughes did a hell of a job defending in the first half of the playoffs. When his foot broke down on him in the Pistons series, he provided an emotional lift by sucking it up and getting out there. He also gave them some early three point shooting. Right now Larry is not helping. One thing is for sure: he won't be guarding Tony Parker any more. Parker is lightning and is a devastating finisher in the paint. He just gobbled Larry up. Look for LeBron and Boobie to guard the Frenchman and try to force him into jump shots. This is essential. If Larry has to play, why not let him guard Bowen, who is slightly less explosive than Parker?

Boobie. Daniel Gibson was the absolute coolest customer out there for the Cavs in game 1. The rook continued his mind-boggling growth by popping in 16 points off the bench--a team high. He, like Parker, finishes in the paint. Unlike Parker, he's a great outside shooter. He need to play 40 minutes, and that's that. His defense is too good to sit him, and there's too much at stake.

Distribution. Mike Brown isn't about to get all Lenny Wilkens on offense anytime soon, but a touch of creativity is in order. The Cavs have to pass the rock better. The 9 assists in game 1 were paltry, and if they have any hope of winning, they are going to have to swing the ball and make a few extra dishes. This starts with someone else handling the ball besides LeBron. That will automatically puts the Spurs defense off balance. The Spurs did a great job of clogging all of LeBrons options because they have invested everything in the belief that he will control the ball 95% of the time. Let LeBron run off screens and set up in the post, where he can do a lot of damage to the triple team. Also, Boobie and Sasha are competent with the ball. Let them create a little. Sasha makes some mistakes, but he is also a tricky passer.

Z. Z needs to hit his jumper, bottom line. He looked a little bit lost at sea in game 1, to say the least.

Boards. The Cavs got murdered, MURDERED on the glass in game one. It was so frustrating! Their backs were broken by offensive rebounds that resulted in three pointers for the Spurs. That was the ballgame right there. Gooden, Z, LeBron and Anderson simply have to get tougher. There's not much to be done about Duncan, but Oberto? Elson? Push these guys out of the way and get the ball! The Cavs talk about rebounding the ball and pushing it up before the Spurs can get set up. Well to do that they first have to rebound the ball! Argh!!!

Penetration. Keep going to the hole! Good things happened when Sasha and Boobie penetrated, because the Spurs basically let them. Go for it. The result was 29 combined points on 13-21 shooting. Driving to the rim is the best way to get Duncan into foul trouble, too. He will block his shots, but get your bodies into him.

Guarding the perimeter. The Spurs nail the three. If you're gonna double team, you've got to rotate better than the Cavs did in game 1.

Speaking of Duncan. The guy is a master. Watch him play, because you won't see any like him ever again. He is the best player of the post-Jordan/pre-LeBron era. He is also refreshingly humble. As far as defending him? Your guess is as good as mine. He has no holes.

Ginobili. This guy is amazing. He comes in and wreaks havoc the way a great sixth man ought to. He's one of the sneakiest players I've ever seen. What to do with him then? I guess, like with Parker, you have to try and make him shoot a jumper, but he's all over the place, running around. He's like a fly I want to swat.

Lineup. LeBron, Boobie, Sasha, Anderson and Gooden. That's the unit that has to be out there. Figure it out Mike Brown. It's your best offensive and defensive option.

LeBron. The best player in the NBA is going to have to be just that. No more feeling things out for three quarters. The time to attack is now. To steal a win in S.A. would be huge, and LeBron has to be at his sharpest to get it done. I have a feeling that he is going to bring it all tonight.

I predict that this one's going to be a lot tighter, folks, like 80-78. I'm not saying the Cavs have to win this game, but it sure would be nice. A win tonight gives them a hell of a lot of momentum heading back home for three in a row.


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