LeBron, Cavs will only get better from the experience
(Sports Network) – Is it a surprise that the San Antonio Spurs lead the
Cleveland Cavaliers 3-0 in the best-of-seven NBA Finals?
San Antonio is a veteran club which knows how to win the big game and has
captured three of the last eight NBA championships, while superstar LeBron
James and the Cavaliers are appearing in their first-ever NBA Finals.
In Game 3, James, who had a tough first two games of the set, had a chance to
tie the game in the closing seconds, but his three-pointer was no good and the
Spurs earned a 75-72 victory at Quicken Loans Arena. All-Star Tim Duncan, who
is a three-time NBA Finals MVP, ended with 14 points and nine rebounds for San
Antonio, while fellow All-Star Tony Parker finished with 17 points, five
boards and three assists.
Bruce Bowen played continued to play tough defense on LeBron, and contributed
13 points and nine rebounds in Game 3’s victory for the Spurs, who held the
Cavaliers to 36.7 percent from the floor.
“That was a great game,” said San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich after Game
3’s win. “Both teams played pretty good defense, I think, and that’s what the
night was all about. We’re trying to stop LeBron and trying to stop some of
the three-point shooters, they’re trying to stop Manu (Ginobili) and Tony
(Parker). We ended up being fortunate enough to win the game, so we’re
thrilled about it.”
James, who is averaging 21.3 points, 7.3 boards and 5.3 assists against the
Spurs, finished with 25 points, eight rebounds and seven helpers in the loss,
while center Zydrunas Ilgauskas collected 12 points and a game-high 18
“I thought our guys, they fought, they gave effort, but we did not make enough
plays, especially down the stretch, to win the ballgame,” said Cleveland head
coach Mike Brown. “I thought LeBron did a terrific job driving the ball, and
he had a couple go in and out that could have really helped us with the
outcome of the game.”
Forward Drew Gooden registered 13 points and 12 rebounds for Cleveland, which
made just 15.8 percent (3-of-19) of its attempts from beyond the arc. Sasha
Pavlovic also netted 13 in defeat.
The Cavaliers did outrebound the Spurs, 48-41, and forced them into committing
14 turnovers. However, experience once again showed in Game 3. When the Spurs
needed a big stop, had to knock down two free throws or were looking for one
of their veterans to drain a clutch shot, it happened.
“This is all about them,” said James after Game 3’s loss. “They played very
good defense. They played elbows and boxes and if I’m coming off someone
that’s there and I have to swing the ball to a teammate or I come off a pick-
and-roll and they’re there again. It’s all about me not trying to force
anything and to try to go for it when I can. I did a good job of not forcing
it tonight, got into the lane and missed a couple bunnies that rimmed in and
rimmed out. Definitely I found some creases tonight.”
There is a reason San Antonio has won three of the last eight titles. Duncan
and the Spurs know what it takes, and are willing to pay the price to achieve
the ultimate goal of winning a championship.
LeBron and the Cavaliers are receiving a lesson on what they need to do to get
over the hump in the future. This wasn’t going to be Cleveland’s year, but
whose to say 2007-08 won’t be.