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2007 NBA Playoffs

Discussion in 'Professional Basketball' started by exhawg, Mar 20, 2007.

  1. SanAntonioBuck

    SanAntonioBuck RIP Our Friend and Hero

    Here's my initial take on the 2007 NBA Finals, and the matchups it presents between the two Contenders, the San Antonio Spurs and the Cleveland Cavaliers:

    Point Guard - Tony Parker vs Larry Hughes

    The PG position is going to go a long way to determining who wins this series. For the Spurs, Parker has grown throughout this postseason, and has been at least as good during the playoffs as he was during the season, which has been the big knock on him over the years. Defensively, he has been incredible in the postseason doing a very good job on a lot of good players such as Iverson, Nash and Barbosa. His jumpshot has been steady throughout, and he has made several timely 4th quarter baskets to stop opposition momentum, and to help steady the Spurs.

    All this adds up to a big problem for the Cavs, even if Hughes was 100% fit. As it is, Hughes is playing with a hurt foot which limits his mobility and quickness. He is going to have a very hard time staying in front of Parker, which opens up not only Parkers penetration for inside baskets, but also forces the defense to collapse opening up the passing lanes to outside shooters for the Spurs. If Parker can capitalise on those opportunities, the Cavs will be in trouble. Offensively, Hughes isn?t a pure PG, and I?d like to see the Spurs pressure him full court on occasion. The defense will be instructed to back off of Hughes and force him to make jumpshots, which for the majority of the playoffs, Hughes has struggled with. He is a very streaky shooter, who is much more suited slashing to the hoop and getting out on the break. With the Spurs great transition D, those opportunities will be limited. With Duncan at the hoop and the Spurs good perimeter defense, Hughes jumpshot better be on otherwise he will struggle to score efficiently. The Cavs will be hoping that his length can bother Parker, but Parker has dealt with rangy, taller players on him before, and I really can?t see Hughes bothering him to much this series. In the end, I see this match up as?

    Advantage - Spurs

    Shooting Guard - Michael Finley vs Sasha Pavlovic

    Both of these players have had some nice moments in the playoffs so far. Since being pushed into the starting lineup, both Finley and Pavlovic have been good surprises for each team. Pavlovic has really excelled defensively throughout the playoffs, and has had to defend some top notch swingmen, including Vince Carter, Richard Jefferson and Richard Hamilton, and has done an admirable job. He has good size, is strong and deceptively athletic. He had a game saving blocked shot on Jason Kidd that was reminiscent of Tayshaun Prince on Reggie Miller a few years back, so he has speed as well. Offensively, he is a nice spot up 3pt shooter, but I?ve yet to see him be able to consistently stick a jumpshot off the dribble. He drives to the hoop well, and has some nice moves as well, but sometimes struggles at the hoop despite being athletic and having nice hops. He is a work in progress offensively, but I think the Spurs would be best served running out at him when he catches the ball off of kick outs, and relying on there team rotation to cover the hoop. Pavlovic isn?t consistent enough with his decision making to repeatedly hurt the Spurs if they defend him as such.

    As for Finley, all he has to do is find the right spots on the court, and stick his jumpshots. He might get a few plays ran for him at times off of small curls for midrange jumpers, but other than that he will rely on Tim Duncan drawing doubles, and Parker and Ginobili?s penetrations to get himself going with open shots. Throughout the playoffs Finley has had no problems serving that role, and has consistently made the open J. His FT shooting has been a big plus as well, and it seems he is designated FT shooter for the Spurs at the end of games. Defensively, Finley has been a nice surprise. He did a respectable job on Carmelo Anthony, Shawn Marion and Andrei Kirilenko amongst others, and will probably see some time on LeBron in this series, which is scary. But if he can be as effective against LeBron as he was against Melo, then that will be a huge bonus for the Spurs. Basically, in this series, a lot of what Finley does will be reliant on how Tim, TP and Manu are playing. If they are getting into the teeth of the D, Cleveland will collapse and force the Spurs to knock down shots. If Finley knocks these shots down, things will be looking good for San Antonio.

    Advantage ? Spurs

    Small Forward - Bruce Bowen vs LeBron James

    Here is the Cavs big chance. LeBron has been spectacular during the playoffs, particularly Games 3, 4 and 5 against Detroit. For the playoffs, he is averaging near a triple double, and this deep into the postseason, that is amazing. His combination of speed, size, height, strength and skills is too much for any one defender to completely negate. The only hope is to back off of him and hope his jumpshot isn?t falling. The Cavs whole offense revolves around LeBron, and the ball is in his hands every possession. The big difference with him in comparison to his other big name scorers is that he prefers to pass, prefers to get his team mates involved. That is when he gets even more dangerous, because opposition defenses need to respect his team mates, which opens up driving lanes to the hoop where LeBron is unmatched in terms of finishing above, around and through people.

    The Spurs will throw the best defender in the NBA (Camby? Pfft) on him though, so all hope isn?t lost. Bowen will be fighting out of his weight division, standing a good 3 inches shorter than LeBron, and probably 50 pounds lighter not to mention the big difference in athleticism. But all this doesn?t matter, because no one has quicker feet, quicker hands and better body positioning and control on defense than Bruce Bowen. Bowen will look to frustrate LeBron , make him look for his own shot first, force the issue and generally just keep him out of his comfort spots on the court. LeBron is going to get his and there is going to be times where LeBron scores a whole bunch just by overpowering LeBron, but that?s ok, as long as Bowen can slow him down, and stop the late game heroics, the Spurs can live with LeBron getting his 25-30ppg. On offense, anything from Bowen is gravy. If he can hit his corner 3?s, that will help the Spurs, but really, with such a big job on the defensive end, expecting anything out of Bowen on offense is a big ask.

    Advantage ? Cavs

    Power Forward - Tim Duncan vs Drew Gooden

    As with LeBron for the Cavs, Duncan is the big advantage for San Antonio. Healthy in the playoffs and operating almost predominately in the post, Duncan has been the best player in the postseason. No health problems really make a difference for Timmy. Defensively, he has been amazing. He is going to cause Cleveland trouble around the hoop on defense, which is just what San Antonio needs because the Cavs rely on interior points as they are a shaky outside shooting team. On offense, Cleveland really has no answer for him. Gooden isn?t strong enough or good enough defensively. Ilgauskas is foul prone and to slow. Varejao will bite on fakes and isn?t strong enough either, though he does have the potential to get Tim in foul trouble with a few nicely timed flops. I expect low post domination from Tim, even if the PPG numbers don?t show it. The Cavs whole defense will be focused on Tim, and the outcome of the series heavily relies on how he handles it. Scoring when he needs to, kicking it out to shooters, being a decoy, offensive rebounding etc is all expected from Tim and I can?t see anyone on the Cavs stopping him from doing that.

    As for Gooden, he is a solid player. Cleveland won?t run any plays for him but he will look to score and is a little bit of a black hole. He crashes the offensive boards well due to his decent athleticism and sizes and has a pretty good midrange jumpshot. The Spurs will have to keep an eye out for him and box him out, because those 2nd chance opportunities can really kill a team. Gooden can also be a bit of a hot head, and is easily taken out of the game by the referees. Expect him and Varejao to share the minutes defending Duncan, with heavy doses of double teaming and collapsing from the guards. If the Spurs can box him out on the boards, and watch his midrange jumpshot, he really shouldn?t be too much of a problem.

    Advantage ? Spurs

    Center - Fabricio Oberto vs Zydrunas Ilgauskas

    I?m not sure what to make of this match up. Oberto has been amazing these playoffs without the numbers to back it up. He makes smart cuts, smart passes, smart defensive plays and combined with his solid defense and knack for tapping out offensive rebounds it makes him a good, safe player. It all makes up for his lack of speed, height and athleticism. Before the series against Utah, I was worried about his rebounding because the Jazz were such a great rebounding team. But he proved me wrong. I?m having the same thoughts before this series because the Cavs are a great rebounding team as well, but I have faith that Fabs will be able to replicate or come close to his production against Utah. He will be asked by the Spurs to do the same things he has been doing all playoffs, and I have a feeling he will get under the guard of the Cavs and produce.

    Big Z has been going well for the Cavs in the playoffs too. He is a big threat in the low post with his rolling hook to the middle and his fadeaway to the baseline. He will be able to get those shots all day against Oberto due to his 5 inch height advantage. He will also be dangerous out to 18-20ft off of pick n pops, and broken plays. He really has great touch for a big man. I don?t mind the Spurs giving that up though, because it means he isn?t near the hoop getting tip ins with his long arms and height. Cleveland tends to forget about him on offense as well, evidenced by the fact he only gets 10FGA per game. He also tends to throw up some ill advised shots at times, and is foul and turnover prone. Key to stopping him for Fabricio is not biting on his fakes, not letting him establish good low position and challenging his jumpshots. It?d be nice if Fab could run him down the court as well, as he did with a much more fleet footed Boozer in the WCF. The Cavs are really going to need a big series out of Z if they are going to upset the Spurs, and with Tim Duncan waiting to be switched onto him if he starts heating up, it?s going to be a big challenge for Z.

    Advantage ? Cavs

    Bench ? Spurs: Ginobili, Horry, Barry, Elson, Vaughn, Bonner, Udrih
    Cavs: Gibson, Varejao, Marshall, Snow, Jones, Pollard, Newble

    The Spurs have the best bench player in the league in Ginobili (Barbosa deserved his award, Manu is a better player) and that automatically gives them the advantage. Expect to see large doses of Ginobili and Horry for the Spurs, with spot minutes to Barry, Elson and Vaughn. For the Cavs, Varejao is a nice backup big who will get 20+ MPG. Gibson was amazing against the Pistons, but is he just a flash in the pan? Snow and Marshall will probably get spot minutes, and perhaps Damon Jones.

    The Spurs need to watch out for the outside shooting of Gibson and Marshall. Much like Bowen, Marshall camps in the corners and bombs away. Whilst he hasn?t been great in the playoffs, he has been a matchup problem for the Spurs in the past. Gibson is more of an unknown. He is a heady player for a rookie, and is a sticky defender who did a respectable job on Billups. You would expect the moment to get to him, but he has proven he can handle the big stage. It?s a big risk for the Cavs to rely on him though, as marginal players tend to be figured out by the Spurs pretty quickly. I can?t see him dropping 31 in a game against the Spurs, he may not even score 31 for the whole series. Varejao will get heavy minutes and provide hustle, energy, defense and flopping. He is capable of picking up quick fouls which can work in the Spurs favour, getting the Cavs into the penalty early in quarters. Snow may get some minutes on Parker or Ginobili, but it really is a give and take thing with Snow for the Cavs. The Spurs will double off of him down the other end, making LeBron?s job that much harder. It will be interesting to see if Mike Brown will be willing to sacrifice some offensive balance and spacing in return for better perimeter defense with Snow. We won?t really know until the series starts.

    As for the Spurs, Ginobili and Horry are key off of the bench. Horry needs to be active on defense and the boards, and Ginobili needs to stay his aggressive self and not revert back to the ?pumpfake 3 times, step back, launch 3 Ginobili? we saw earlier in the playoffs. The Spurs will have the utmost confidence in Ginobili & Horry to perform in the finals because of the history they have of doing just that. It would be nice to see Horry contribute on the offensive end as well, but it isn?t necessarily vital if Oberto is providing some offense. The Cavs really have no answer for Ginobili, and I expect him to give them fits the whole series. Vaughn needs to just come in and not stuff up. Barry and Elson need to minimise mistakes, and contribute in regards to there respective specialties. Overall, the Spurs have the best bench player (perhaps the best 2) and in the finals, rotations tend to shrink to 6 or 7 players getting meaningful minutes. The Spurs have more depth, and better, more proven players off the bench. This could be a big advantage for the Spurs in this series.

    Advantage ? Spurs

    Coaching ? Gregg Popovich vs Mike Brown

    A former Coach of the Year, 3 Time Championship winning coach and the best defensive coach in recent history versus a guy that learned everything he knows off of him. Popovich has a huge advantage in experience here, but as last season showed us, that doesn?t always translate into success. But that said, I think it will this time. Mike Brown has had some horrible moments, particularly with time management and play calling. I?d like to see more of the offense go to Ilgauskas, and play LeBron off the ball a little bit more. Also, the Cavs could really put LeBron in some better positions to score. Some of the Iso?s they run really allow the defense you basically zone against LeBron. They need to get more early offense and easy baskets.

    As for Popovich, he has been pretty damn good through the playoffs. I haven?t agreed on his use of Bowen throughout, particularly against Nash and Deron Williams, but other than that he has been good. Keeping Ginobili coming off of the bench, starting Oberto were both very smart moves that have paid off big time. If he sticks to his principles and doesn?t try get to fancy with his lineups, I expect his coaching to provide the Spurs with a big advantage.

    Advantage ? Spurs


    Cleveland will defiantly push the Spurs in this series. I?m not sure they are actually a better team than any of Denver, Phoenix or Utah, but they are the type of team that can give the Spurs trouble. They are big and athletic, rebound extremely well, are good defensively and have an absolute megastar. That said, Cleveland are just not consistent enough offensively and don?t have answers defensively for the Spurs best 3 players to beat them in a 7 game series. I think the format will allow they to win 2 games at home, but in the end, the Spurs are a better team, have a better coach, are better both offensively and defensively, and I just don?t see LeBron being enough to stop that. Tim Duncan for Finals MVP!

    SPURS IN 6
    Fungo Squiggly and BB73 like this.

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