Don’t let the final score fool you… as far as NBA Finals blowouts go this one is right up there, along with the Bulls demolition of the Jazz in game 3 of the 98 Finals. As coach Van Gundy said several times in the broadcast, it was a “clinic”. Parker was again brutally efficient on the drive and from the floor (30 points), Duncan picked his spots and distributed the ball perfectly when the Cavs crowded him (and they did do a much better job of that compared to game 1), and Ginobili was at his crazy rubber-man best (his 4-point play was a dagger, if the Spurs even needed one). Lebron meanwhile went completely missing in action for long stretches of the game, made several unforgivable blunders, and then had the audacity to tease us with a 3-minute blitz that put the Cavs within eight. Seriously LBJ, what are you waiting for? I like the fact he’s composed and unfazed by all the Finals pressure, but a little more urgency would be nice. After all, you did just get pumped in two straight games.
So on to my game 2 highlights and lowlights:
- Quote of the night from coach Van Gundy on Varejao – “I think his hair helps him draw those fouls”. I laughed, and then realised he’s probably right
- My non-NBA following friend asking “so why does everyone hate the Spurs?” and listening to my other friend (a Suns fan) trying to explain, which involved a 5-minute spiel about how they’re “dirty”, “boring”, “rotten cheaters” and then a sentence using “Robert Horry” and the ”F” word about eight times
- 8:43 left in the second, Lebron AIRBALLS the free throw. Right then and there I knew the game was over
- What is the deal with that NBL commercial involving American high-schoolers singing “get your head in the game”? Seriously, is this the kind of image we’re promoting for our national game? It doesn’t even make sense. It looks like someone spliced together parts of an Olsen twins movie with footage of the ten most uncool NBL players they could find. It’s embarrassing. If that commercial is being broadcast to any country other than Australia then I feel a national apology is in order. And even if its not, the NBL marketing guys still need to be thumped with a chair
- How many times do we need to hear the stat about Tony Parker’s points in the paint? We know he’s good at getting inside and finishing, we know he’s small and French, and we know its a stat dominated by the big guys. I think a more meaningful statistic would be the number of times the commentators bring up the “points in the paint” stat during a game. That number needs to be kept to a minimum for the Cavs to stay in this series, and for me to remain sane
- Lebron needs to go and watch tape of Kobe splitting double teams. Lebron is getting trapped and cornered so effectively that he has no option but to throw it to a teammate (or turn it over). You don’t see Kobe get in those situations. He will find space to launch his own shot or knife through the double-team like it wasn’t there. Kobe makes a mockery of the double team, Lebron is still a victim to it
- I don’t think I’ve ever seen Tim Duncan show more emotion than he did when Horry swatted away his fourth block. Watch Duncan on the bench. He almost has a seizure. It’s like 82 games of bottled-up emotion just exploded and Timmy couldn’t hold it back (and kudos to Big Shot Bob for being a monster on D all night)
- Midway through the fourth quarter Lebron was dribbling along the baseline when he totally lost his handle on the ball and threw it to the Spurs. There was no pressure, no double-team, and he was barely moving. On the next possession he threw up an air-ball. I can’t remember a worse back-to-back sequence from Lebron ever. It looked bad, real bad. It’s the kind of thing you’d see playing in the backyard with your friends. Not from an NBA superstar playing in the series of his life
- The comeback was nearly amazing. All the way back from twenty-nine to eight, and you just know Tony Parker traveled driving on the ensuing possession (in the paint!). The Cavs were one shot away from making it a two-possession game, and the Spurs were visibly rattled during a five minute patch of play. Of course, the Spurs never really were threatened and quickly pushed it back to twelve points. But at least we got one jump-out-of-your-seat moment when Lebron’s hanging shot drew a foul from Duncan sending him to the line. That was the split-second when I thought we might have been watching Lebron make history again. Twas not to be…
The Cavs are in a hole, and its much deeper than the Detroit one. If they’re going to dig themselves out of it they might need to borrow a phrase from our NBL friends and ”get their head in the game” (ouch).