|Did final quarter of Game 1 mean anything?|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 08 June 2007 21:48|
Did the Spurs just let up, or did the Cavaliers show that they could solve San Antonio's league-leading defense?
``I think they started to figure some stuff out, and so it's just about getting back that focus that we had in those first three quarters,'' Spurs forward Tim Duncan said Friday. ``I don't know that we specifically need to change much of anything, but we just need to make some adjustments and make sure that we're not giving those easy shots up in the beginning of the game, this next one.''
Cleveland shot 36.5 percent and trailed 64-49 through three quarters of Game 1, with the 49 points matching the combined totals of Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. But the Cavs made 11 of 18 shots (61 percent) in the final period, outscoring San Antonio 27-21 and cutting an 18-point deficit to single digits.
``I think we started to show what we're capable of doing, so hopefully that carries on to the next game,'' said reserve guard Daniel Gibson, who made all four shots and scored nine points in the fourth.
But Spurs coach Gregg Popovich didn't seem overly concerned, realizing that every team has good and bad moments in a game.
``An NBA game has several times in the game where momentum shifts,'' he said. ``You know, there are going to be times when a team turns it over a little bit or doesn't make shots, and one team goes up on the other team. I think it goes back and forth.''
DR. J ON LBJ: Dr. J has a little friendly advice for LBJ: Simplify and relax.
Hall of Famer Julius Erving said the 16 shots LeBron James took Thursday night in the first game of the NBA finals had a degree of difficulty of ``an eight or a nine or a 10.
``You can be effective, but you're not going to play up to your potential unless you can simplify,'' Erving said.
The Spurs successfully contained James in Game 1, holding him to 14 points on 4-of-16 shooting in 44 minutes.
``Find the simplest route to what you need to execute,'' Erving advised, saying James should evaluate his primary defender, Bruce Bowen, to figure out ways to score. ``I would let him guard me and bait him to get what I want when I want it and eliminate some of the difficulty.''
Instead of trying to scoot around the quick Bowen, Erving suggested going for 15-foot jumpers.
``Make it a good shot rather than a hard shot,'' he said.
But Erving said James probably doesn't need the help.
``He's been very good at adapting and that's part of what his legacy's going to be about,'' Erving said. ``He'll pick up on that, you'll probably see more of that the next game.''
Erving, who won the NBA title in 1983 with the Philadelphia 76ers and won two American Basketball Association championships, said James, just 22 years old, needs to make the most of these finals, even if they are the first of many.
``You never make an assumption that you're going to get back,'' Erving said. ``So I think he needs to be focused on being in it to win it.''
COACHING THE COACHES: Hank Egan has ties to both coaches in the NBA finals. So which one is he closer to?
``Right now, since I helped negotiate his contract, he's probably closer to me,'' Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. ``But back when he was working for Pop, he'd probably say Pop.''
Egan is Brown's assistant, just as he was once for Gregg Popovich in San Antonio. But his relationship with both goes much deeper than that.
Egan coached both players in college - Popovich on Air Force's junior varsity team, Brown at San Diego. Popovich then worked under Egan for six years at the Air Force Academy and years later hired him as an assistant with the Spurs.
Popovich said the first practice plan he ever did was with Egan.
``He taught me basketball as a player. He disciplined me, he stroked me and kicked me in the butt,'' Popovich said. ``Then we coached together for six years, and then we coached another seven or eight here in San Antonio. He's meant the world to me as far as basketball and a personal relationship.''
Brown hired Egan in 2005 when he got the Cleveland job, and noticed how much different he was from back when Brown was playing under him.
``He changed dramatically from when he coached me in college until now,'' Brown said. ``He's a lot mellower. I remember the Irish coming out of him a few times when we were in college, but that hasn't happened since he's been in the NBA.''
``He's right,'' Egan said. ``I've calmed down a lot. I used to be a wild man.''
BIG WRAP FOR THE BIG MAN: Cleveland's tallest player is about to have more of a towering presence than usual.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas will be featured on a building wrap that will measure nearly 70 feet high by 54 feet wide. It is expected to be adhered to the Gateway North Garage across from the Quicken Loans Arena by Monday.
The wrap is being created by Fathead, which makes life-sized graphics of sports and entertainment stars.
``Zydrunas is a great choice by Fathead to represent the Cavaliers organization during this special time in Cleveland,'' Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry said in a statement. ``I am very happy that he is getting the well-deserved recognition for all of his hard work during his past nine seasons with the Cavaliers organization.''
Now the Cavs need the 7-foot-3 Ilgauskas to come up big on the floor. He was only 1-of-8 for two points in their Game 1 loss.
ON ONE FOOT: Larry Hughes chose to play through the pain. Tony Parker made him feel even worse.
Hughes, slowed by a small tear and plantar fasciitis in his left foot, was unable to stay with San Antonio's speedy point guard in Game 1 as Parker scored 27 points - most of them on layups - in the Spurs' 85-76 win.
Hughes elected not to get a pregame injection into his injury, a medical treatment he opted for during the Cavaliers' Eastern Conference finals against Detroit.
``I'm pretty proud of myself for not taking it (the injection) and dealing with the pain and going out there and trying to help the team,'' Hughes said.
His teammates were proud, too.
``I know that's tough on him because I know the type of person he is, the type of competitor that he is,'' Cavs guard Daniel Gibson said. ``But just seeing him out there on the floor, giving it a go and giving everything he's got, it really motivates us as a team. Any little injury that we have is really nothing because he's out there pretty much on one leg.''
Hughes also said his foot is improving.
``Right now I'm feeling better than I've felt. I definitely felt I could have played more in Game 1,'' said Hughes, who had two points on 1-of-5 shooting in 23 minutes. ``I felt just that good.''