As I sit and ponder on the fact that the San Antonio Spurs are one win away from the NBA Championship a thought encapulates all of my feelings towards this series.
It’s only a matter of time.
In my view that wraps up my mindset on this series. Each game has had a feeling of ‘when’ instead of ‘if’. When are the Spurs going to make their run? I have never once felt like Cleveland has had a shot, no matter what kind of run they go on or what kind of lead they build up. Because when the Spurs take the lead in this series, I write the game off. When it was 44-40 San Antonio, I knew the game was over. Actually to be honest I knew Cleveland was doomed when I saw the starting lineups.
Mike Brown has made plenty of mistakes this season and in these playoffs. He has a great defensive mind and…well not much else. He has been questioned about his decision making and ability time and time again. Brown has had his fair share of mistakes, however he may have made his biggest mistake on the grandest stage of them all. The one thing about the great coaches of all-time is that they do things their way or the highway. Mike Brown buckled under pressure and succumbed to public opinion. When you are listening to the fans and the media for a change, it usually is not the best move.
Starting Daniel Gibson was a major-league mistake.
I never quite understood why everyone was clamoring for Gibson to start in the first place. He is a gifted player who has put himself on the basketball map thanks to his excellent play in the second season. Remind yourself however that he is a 21 year old who started in 16 games this year. Hint: none of those sixteen were in the playoffs. So why all of a sudden would you start Gibson, something you had yet to do in your previous playoff games? Because he is a better scorer? A better defender? The Cavs are better with him on the floor? All of these are true facts. Unfortunately, none of that takes the intangibles into effect.
In the beginning of the game you are going to be able to play even steven, go on a run or take a nice hit from the opponent. Those are the three options. I had been wondering why Larry Hughes was even playing, let alone starting but it was explained to me. Brown was throwing him out there to see if he could give anything. If he was going to give Cleveland anything it was going to come early because that was when his foot was going to be loose and warm. That made sense. Then you can bring Gibson off the bench, have him provide energy, offense and a completely different look. You can sustain a run and comeback with Gibson coming off the bench, he changes the game. Think about this though…with Gibson starting, who is going to give Cleveland that spark? They already have a lack of firepower but that move really hurt them more than people understand. Now you have to go to Damon Jones (who can do NOTHING but shoot, he has less D than Becky Hammon) or Eric Snow (who can do NOTHING but play D and work hard, he has less offense then Sue Bird). Now, instead of you getting better with your first subs, your team is getting worse. Also, one has to account for the change in Gibson’s rhythm. Instead of coming off the bench he has to start. For someone who has started in a basketball game that matters, the difference is subtle but significant. Your routine is thrown off a little more. You aren’t quite as relaxed as normal, because instead of being able to watch the game, get a sense of the flow and who is hot and who is not from the bench…you are the one who is out there to begin it. As much as you try to not think about it, the thought enters your head. The Cavaliers were doomed as soon as that move was made. Sure enough it rendered Gibson ineffective and their bench gave them absolutely nothing.
My other thoughts on the game…the whole Bruce ‘did he or did he not’..look, first off Cleveland should have called a TO. My second point is, obviously Bowen was trying to foul so Cleveland could only get two points at best and not get a three off. The thing is, had they called the foul they were not going to give LeBron the continuation. And if they had, we all know he more than likely would have clanked one of them. Furthermore, LeBron still had an extra clean look at the hoop and almost made it. Bowen didn’t hit him as he was shooting if my memory serves me correctly. That play is not the reason why Cleveland lost Game 3 or why they find themselves in a hole they can do nothing about. So I don’t want to hear about that.
This was Cleveland’s shot to get on the board. An ugly game at home and they could not get it done. San Antonio’s Big 3 played terrible. It was a classic ‘we’re in control’ performance from San Antonio. What I mean by that is the Spurs tendency to play down to their opponent’s level, to almost put it in semi-cruise control on the road in the playoffs. They have done it in every series. Cleveland just is not good enough to take advantage of it. They held Ginobli to no made field goals and they still lose. I told you, San Antonio is a well-oiled machine. They are a championship making machine. Look at Brent Barry..he was running around like a kid in Game 2, like it was still 95 and he could take off from the foul line in his warmup jacket. Then in Game 3 he gave them big-time threes that lifted them. Ditto for Bruce Bowen. The Spurs can go elsewhere, and even when their big three is struggling they still make you play D which is going to open up shots for their shooters. And you can always tell when the Spurs are really on if their other guys are making shots.
Duncan said it himself after the game “Game 3 is usually the toughest game possible.” And the Spurs still emerged with a win. They just have it. “It” is hard to describe, but think back to when they came back and won Game 5 at Phoenix. They had no business winning that game, Phoenix was dominating but San Antonio would not die. They willed themselves to victory. They have an inate ability to impose their will on their opponents. As a fan, sitting and watching this Spurs team is just always feels like they are going to win. It may not always be dominant but it is just a matter of time. The Bulls teams had it, the Lakers had it…this Spurs team has it.
San Antonio Spurs, 2007 NBA Champions….it’s only a matter of time..