2007 NBA Finals Preview
by Robert Ferringo - 06/06/2007
Mike Brown's glasses will decide this year's NBA Finals.
While watching the Cleveland Cavaliers this season I couldn't help but notice that Brown, the Cavs' coach, coordinates the rims of his glasses to the suits that he wears. My first thought was that he was just "coordinating" like Mr. Jackson suggested in "Boomerang". But then it hit me: no championship coach spends that much time worrying about how he looks. Bill Belichick looks like he slept under a bridge over the Charles River. Phil Jackson had the grey wafro and was too stoned to care how he looked. Vince Lombardi, Joe Torre, Red Auerbach; you think they spent much time in front of a mirror?
But what does this have to do with Cleveland's NBA Finals match-up with the San Antonio Spurs? Plenty. It tells me that anyone who spends that much time on his wardrobe isn't spending enough time making adjustments and game planning for his team. And if you don't believe me, just look at the fact that the Cavaliers were consistently dominated in the third quarter this season. Prior to Cleveland's Game 5 and Game 6 victories over Detroit, the Cavaliers had been outscored in the third quarter in seven of their previous eight games by an average of 8.6 points.
Halftime is when all of the adjustments are made and when teams are set to refocus for the second half. Apparently, Brown hasn't been sharp in this area and as a result the Cavs have either squandered leads or dug themselves in holes in the second half. Now, the lackluster third quarter performances haven't slowed the Cavaliers at the window. They've covered in eight of their past 10 outings, despite a pedestrian 6-4 overall mark. But with a miniscule margin for error in the NBA Finals it could be the difference between championship glory and runner-up shame.
Despite their array of third quarter problems, Brown and the Cavs do have two things going for them in this arena against the Spurs. First, San Antonio is nearly as bad coming out of the break as the Cavs, losing the third quarter in five of their past six games by an average of 7.2 points. Second, because Brown was an assistant coach for the Spurs before he became coach of the Cavaliers, he may have an easier time diagnosing what it is that Gregg Popovich and his chargers are trying to do.
But I say not. I say that the Spurs are much too talented of a team to be taken down by the hodgepodge of players on the Cleveland roster. I don't think that Drew Gooden, Donyell Marshall or Zydrunas Ilgauskas will be a suitable answer for Tim Duncan and the Spurs frontcourt, nor do I think that the Cavs backcourt will be able to come close to the production that the Spurs will get out of Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker. I simply don't see how a team that features one guy with NBA Finals experience (Eric Snow) is supposed to beat a crew of three-time champions.
I know that -450 is an absurd price to pay for the series, but it could be the easiest money you every make. I wouldn't suggest going big on it, but the Spurs are going to clean the Cavaliers' clock. Don't be nervous about Lebron James. I didn't even mention him until now because this series really isn't about him. James is phenomenal. He's a true superstar. But he has a penchant for choking, will be slowed just enough by Bruce Bowen, and isn't the player that the Spurs will focus on stopping. James isn't going to win or lose this series - his teammates are. And there's pretty much no chance in hell that they are better than the Spurs.
My series prediction is San Antonio in five games. They may be close games, and I could see the Cavs covering in three of those five outings. But I don't think that the series will ever be in doubt. I know that I'll be laying the juice on the series and on several moneyline plays and trusting in the experience and talent of the eventual World Champion San Antonio Spurs.
Questions or comments for Robert? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out his Insider Page here.