Finals Game 1 Cleveland @ San Antonio: Spurs 85, Cavaliers 76 (1-0)
Alright, let's get these out of the way... (feel free to add yours)
Ha ha ha ha ha, I'm so funny. Yeah, the game was a blast. Props to the Spursdynasty gang for putting up with both Manolis and the pitifully small televisions at Sneakers last Thursday. I'm sure it'll be the last time I'm allowed to pick the sports bar. Forgive me, I haven't lived here in forever, so I haven't gotten the chance to scout locales.
Anyway, I should have written this earlier. What can I say, it's been a blah week. I've spent a lot of time thinking and I've decided to move back home for good. I HATE San Diego, and I really don't want to go back there with my tail between my legs just because I haven't found a job yet. So next week I'm going down there, moving my stuff out for good and hopefully I won't have to return for a long, long time. I know I should be putting my nose to the grindstone and actually looking for work, but I've just had trouble focusing and finding the proper motivation. I don't know if it's the Finals, stuff with Katie, my personal stuff or what, but my head is all over the place right now and I'm just not myself right now. I'm hopeful that once I move my shit back here and cut my San Diego cord off for good, it'll get me back on the right path.
What any of that has to do with Game 1? Absolutely nothing. Whattaya want, Powell already put up a timely blog that has been linked to death all over the interweb. What else can I possibly add? I've spent two days trying to think of something that happened out there that was even mildly surprising, and I'm absolutely stumped. That was pretty much exactly how I expected the game to go.
Let's go down the list, just to review...
- Tony had a super Game 1; par for the course.
- Findog was pretty nervous/shaky in his first Finals appearance; to be expected.
- Tim, after being reminded of LeBron's dunk over him in November, got a swat on him Thursday.
- 1st quarter score: 20-15.
- The ABC/ESPN team game presentation made me miss TNT.
- Our outside shooting, as a team, was quite rusty.
- Manu had several moments of insanity, for better and worse.
- LeBron came out flat.
- Half-time score: 40-35.
- Ilgauskas played soft against our bigs.
- Varejao outright flopped three times.
- Larry Hughes was powerless to stop Le Trou Noir.
- 3rd quarter score: 64-49.
- Mike Brown was very, very, poor.
- Stephen A. Smith was loud, abrasive and annoying.
- Cleveland's ballsiest player was a man called "Boobie."
- Final score: 85-76.
Of course, when it was revealed that the telecast had abysmal ratings, down 19% from last year, the Spurs will be blamed. Does it matter that the Spurs have averaged more points per game and more assists per game than Cleveland in both the regular season and the postseason? Nah. Does it matter that ABC/ESPN has crummy announcers and unlikable, loudmouth analysts? Don't be silly. Does it matter that ESPN, in the wake of Game 4 of the second round, spent a whole week telling its audience how fraudulent and undeserving the Spurs are, too shortsighted to see that in the very near future, their partners, ABC, would have to sell those very same Spurs to that very same audience? Absurd.
No, in the end, it's the Spurs' fault. Whenever people turn the channel, it's always the Spurs' fault. We might as well be an NHL team. We've got the goons and foreigners and humility and everything. Well screw everybody. If America doesn't find the Spurs interesting, it's America's fault. Pop isn't going to make catty remarks about the refs. Tim isn't going to sexually assault some chick in Wyoming. Tony and Manu aren't going to come to blows over who's the (secondary) Man. Fabricio isn't going to get a green Mohawk, fifty tattoos and syphilis from Paris Hilton. Eva Longoria isn't going to have an affair with everyone's favorite piece of man candy Beno Udrih.
We're just a really, really, ridiculously good basketball team. That's it. If that isn't interesting to people, then basketball isn't interesting to people. The Spurs are not gonna change and they're not gonna act like clowns for you. If we all ask really nicely, maybe Pop will give us some sweet dunks from James White to gape at next season. Outside of that we'll just have to settle for the usual assload of nifty passes, two or three contorted, acrobatic lay-ups a night from the French guy, and maybe the occasional nutmeg from Flopobili. Somehow, someway, we will get through it. The human journey is all about sacrifice.
Some trivial Game 1 observations from the "That won't happen again this series" department:
1. The Spurs scored six points between the 6:00 mark of the 1st quarter and the 6:00 mark of the second quarter.
2. Manu was the primary defender on LeBron for ten or so possessions in the second quarter and James didn't score.
3. Tony made eight lay-ups.
4. Gino had zero assists.
5. Daniel Gibson shot 7 of 9.
6. Elson outplayed Fab.
7. Tim shot 80% from the line.
8. Eric Snow didn't play except for the last 30 seconds.
9. LeBron had just four free throw attempts.
10. Our big three all scored more than James.
But yeah, I'm sure it's tempting to some, after one game, to think these Finals will be cake. After all, we hadn't played for over a week, so obviously our offensive rhythm was gonna be off. It's probably unlikely for all our role players to combine for a mere 18 points again. I'm expecting us to be in the lower 90s when it comes to scoring in most of these games, considering that the Cavs don't really have a shot blocker and they're doubling Timmy aggressively enough to always leave an open three point shooter somewhere. And while the Cavs will be sure to go under every screen with Tony from now on, he's still such a mismatch for them that he'll get to the cup a half dozen times a night, minimum. Finley will find his stroke soon enough and Manu will rev up if we ever need him to.
All that being said, the series doesn't start `til the home team loses, so put away the brooms until we visit the mistake by the lake. It was just an ordinary nine point win. And I'm not too stoked about the non-LeBrons combining for 62 points either. Not one bit. We should aim for 50-55, somewhere in that neighborhood. Ilgauskas and Hughes combined for only four points, how could we allow 58 to the others? Jesus Christ. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. The half court defense was fine, but we gave up way too much in transition and with second chances. We played a "B-" game, at best. Hopefully we can crank it up a couple of notches on Sunday, at both ends, and really plant that seed of doubt in their heads going home, putting all the pressure on them to avoid absolute humiliation in front of their crowd.
Since it's 3:00 AM and I can't think of anything else to say, time to end this post with a slide show...
3. Bruce Bowen - Shut down Boy Wonder as well as we could have possibly dreamed. Should be quite the riot tomorrow with Amare in the house as a guest analyst.
2. Tony Parker - What he did to Larry Hughes is illegal in 23 states. I am a bit nervous about this "shoot 25 times" business though. The jumper wasn't lookin' too good in Game 1.
1. Tim Duncan - The engraver might as well just carve his name onto another Finals MVP trophy and get it over with. I rather enjoy having the best player on the planet on our team.