NBA Finals Game 3 San Antonio @ Cleveland: Spurs 75, Cavaliers 72 (3-0)
Well that was
disgraceful intense. Whenever a game like this breaks out, the talking heads are fond of using the ol' "this one set the game of basketball back forty years" line, but let's be honest, most Eastern Conference playoff games are like this, aren't they?
Don't blame the Spurs for this not being a series. We did our part tonight. It was another classic pussy game all the way. We literally could not have played any worse offensively, outside of Tim accidentally twisting Manu or Tony's head off congratulating them on a nice play going into the first time out. And don't let the Cavs' low total fool you either. They had wide open looks all night. If they could shoot worth a lick, they would've been good for 93 points or so tonight. Alas, they suck. Seriously, if we played like this against any Western playoff team, we would've gotten our asses handed to us, plain and simple.
I mean, just look at the basic stats. We shot 41% from the field and 56% from the FT line (on only 16 attempts). We had a lovely 15/14 assist/turnover ratio and gave up eight more offensive rebounds than we procured. The threes saved us (10-19) but outside of that, we basically did nothing well. Even more amazingly, the big three collectively fell off a cliff. It was natural to expect some regression - 78 points is a lot - but for them to only combine for 34? That's unreal. I thought one of them would struggle, perhaps two, but all three lost it simultaneously.
Unfortunately, the carnage wasn't split perfectly evenly between the three. While they shot 13 of 41 combined, (31.7%) I'm afraid that a certain big nosed Argentine took the goat horns tonight with a morbid 0 of 7 (0.0%) night. Add to that the 1 of 8 stink bomb Gino treated the Clevelanders to on January 2nd, and I'm afraid that the dude just can't shoot in this building. At least he managed to contribute in other ways, leading the squad with five assists, chipping in with four rebounds, icing the game with three free throws in the last ten seconds and finishing second on the team with a +7 for the evening. It just goes to show that even Manu is
playing like a diseased yak having an off night, he can still go out there and come out a winner because he plays on Tim Duncan's team is a gamer.
You want to talk about a terrible night? I give you Daniel "Poopy" Gibson. 1 of 10, 2 points, one assist, one steal, a game worst -11 (remember the Cavs only lost by 3) in 36 minutes of run. Luckily his incompetence offset Zydrunas Ilgouskas' return among the living, as the gigantic Lithuanian finished with a more than respectable 12 and 18 (10 offensive rebs!). I've always had a soft spot in my heart for this gentle giant, so I was thrilled to see him emerge as the Cavs 2nd best player at least once this Finals. But because nobody on his team could hit the side of an ocean, his effort went for naught.
Anywho, enough about Cleveland. We're one win from the big shiny golden ball. Like Ron Burgandy, that's kind of a big deal. I'll admit, the Finals have been a little bittersweet, only because our opponents are so beneath us, but you can't script these things. You take the wins, however they come, whoever they come against, and you thank your stars for every one of them.
However, if I could script Game 4, here's how it would go down. LeBron, who was classy in defeat tonight, would finally make his mark in these Finals and have a huge 40 point night. Ilgouskas would have another big game too and the other Cavs would chip in here and there and they'd have their best offensive showing of the series. Our big three would bounce back (Manu in particular) and leave a worthy last impression combining for another 75 or so and making all manner of highlight plays. The score would be 99-97 Cleveland, with fifteen seconds on the clock and our ball. Tony would inbound the ball from the side to Tim at the left high post. Manu would come around from the right side, off a Bowen screen and curl hard around Tim, get the hand off and race toward the hoop. The defense would be coming hard to challenge and Manu would flip a cross court one hopper to Fin in the corner.
Swish. 100-99 at the buzzer. Perfect.
No matter how it goes down, I'll be watching it with Manolis in San Diego. Busy day tomorrow driving down and packing my shit out of there for good. Matthew will be the one to have the honor of composing your Finals-ending post and that's only appropriate. It's still his show when it's all said and done. I'll probably say my final piece on Saturday. These blogs took so much time and effort to write, but now that there's probably only one game left in the season, I can't believe how quickly it's all gone by. I could watch this group of guys play forever. We may never have it this good again.
3. Brent Barry - Finally he showed up on the road! Brent hit three big threes in a game where points were at a premium and was a game best +13. When it's all said and done he is my third favorite Spur, so I'm glad he had one good showing for us to remember him by. I'm gonna miss him.
2. LeBron James - 25-8-7 and a team best + 4. We are making this kid work hard for everything, and to his credit he's never given up and he hasn't been pointing fingers. I'm pleasantly surprised that he hasn't lost his cool yet, and maybe he is more mature than I've given him credit for.
1. Bruce Bowen - On a day when Manu had nothing and Tim & Tony were struggling a bit as well, Bruce was huge, bagging four threes, scooping up nine rebounds, and fighting James tooth and nail for 44 minutes. We never had a cushion near big enough to rest him and I can't believe how tireless the guy is.