NBA Finals in Cleveland

For Cavaliers fans, the wait has ended.

After 37 years - including some very long, losing ones, the NBA finals have pulled into town.

There are some Cleveland fans who haven't had to endure nearly four decades of suffering. After all, LeBron James has attracted more than a few latecomers to the party over the last four seasons.

Oddsmakers have made San Antonio -2 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 178.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 70% of bets for this game have been placed on San Antonio -2 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

But for those who remember players like Bingo Smith, Jim Chones, Jim Cleamons and Craig Ehlo, the city's first NBA finals game on Tuesday night will be something to savor.

``It's magical,'' said Kip Horsburgh of Gates Mills. ``It's a bonus. I don't think anyone thought we would make the finals. I would rank it up there with watching the Indians first World Series game in '95.''

The 59-year-old Horsburgh has been a season-ticket holder since 1981 and hasn't missed a playoff game this season. He and his wife and two sons have certainly paid their dues, attending games even during the lean years, like the 17-win season in 2002-03 that was followed by the Cavs winning the NBA draft lottery and getting to pick James.

``We would see seven to eight games a year in the bad years. And they were pretty bad,'' he said.

The fact that the Cavaliers are 0-2 heading into Game 3 is hardly dampening anyone's spirits.

``This is something I've waited a lifetime for,'' said Stuart Glassman, 46, of Beachwood, whose family has held season tickets since 1972. ``I'm optimistic. There was a pretty clear understanding of what we're going against with a team that's been there before. As a fan, I'm thrilled they're playing tough to the very end and optimistic that staring tomorrow they'll turn it around.''

Fans who sell their postseason tickets for big bucks infuriate Horsburgh, who said part of the joy has been sharing the Cavaliers playoff success with the season-ticket holders who sit near him in his corner section.

While Horsburgh was looking forward to Game 3, it won't be his ultimate thrill.

``The longtime fans want to win the championship,'' he said. ``We've lost the first two (games) and we want to make progress toward that goal. We want to win now. We may not get back right away.''


TAKE A BREAK: Neither team practiced Monday in San Antonio, opting only to travel to Cleveland.

For the veteran Spurs, loaded with older players, the day off was probably welcomed. But Bruce Bowen, about to turn 36, thought his team would look forward to getting back on the floor.

The Spurs played a disappointing fourth quarter Sunday in Game 2, getting outscored 30-14 and letting Cleveland cut what had been a 29-point deficit down to single digits. And the best way to make up for that is doing it right the next time.

``We know we didn't play particularly well,'' Bowen said after the game. ``When we go through our film session and things of that nature, I'm sure guys are going to want to get back on the court to make up for the effort we gave in the fourth quarter.''


NOT GOODEN-OUGH?: Drew Gooden has been one of Cleveland's most effective players in the NBA finals, averaging 13.5 points and making 12 of 21 shots.

But Mike Brown is a defensive-minded coach, so it takes more than just good play on the offensive end to impress him. And it doesn't seem Gooden has delivered enough to this point.

Asked about Gooden's offense following Game 2, Brown agreed that Gooden can score. But he made it clear he's looking for more.

``Drew can score points,'' Brown said. ``But with Drew, it's not just about scoring points. We've got to make sure that we're focused, and this includes Drew, at the beginning of the ballgame, with defensive assignments and little things.''

Gooden was involved in one of Cleveland's many ugly moments in the first half. Apparently thinking he was being taken out of the game, he slowly walked toward the bench and stood talking to Brown along the sideline. But Gooden was still in the game, and the Spurs quickly inbounded and pushed the ball up the floor with hopes of a 5-on-4 possession.

Gooden sprinted back to get in the play, and was actually substituted for shortly after.

He has grabbed only 10 rebounds, part of the reason the Spurs have been able to control the backboards. That's just one area that Brown expects his starters to do better in Cleveland.

``At the beginning of the game, we had too many guys just wanting to score, and it's not about that,'' Brown said. ``We've got to move the ball, we've got to set screens, we've got to rebound, we've got to defend. There are a lot of other things you can do in the game of basketball, and that goes for Drew and everybody else in that starting lineup.''


MEDIA SQUEEZ: Cavaliers fans have grown accustomed to watching postseason game on big screens outside Quicken Loans Arena, where they cheer every shot as if they were inside the building.

But they'll have to make other plans this week.

The team announced Monday that because of the large staging area required for broadcast media trucks and equipment, fans won't be permitted to stay in the plaza after tipoff.

A pregame fan festival featuring games, face painting and banner making will still go on, but fans will either need to have a ticket or step into a local sports bar to see Games 3, 4 and 5 (if necessary).

The plaza was jam-packed with fans for Game 6 of the Detroit series, many had left the Cleveland Indians game next door at Jacobs Field and hung around to celebrate the Cavaliers first Eastern Conference championship.

By: Marc Young - - Email Us

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