Sunday, June 03, 2007

NBA Finals Preview

That wasn't a terribly exciting pair of Conference Finals, was it? So this will probably go pretty fast. Let's recap:

Detroit/Cleveland - I predicted the Pistons would jump to a 2-0 lead, then let the Cavs back into the series, I just figured they'd be able to play at a high enough level when it counted to prevail.

I was wrong. Either I seriously overestimated the Pistons, or I underestimated LeBron James. I'm going to choose the latter. I thought it was pretty lousy when LeBron was taking crap for passing to his open teammate at the end of Game 1 (Jordan did the same thing people, ask Steve Kerr), but maybe the criticism was on the money, because things seemed to go smoother for Cleveland when LeBron said "Screw it, my teammates suck, I'll handle this myself." Either way, the Pistons couldn't - whether from lack of intensity, lack of control *cough* Rasheed *cough*, lack of skill, or lack of coaching - respond, and now the Cavs are in the Finals. Good for the city of Cleveland.

San Antonio/Utah - I didn't figure Utah could win, but man, I thought they'd put up a little more fight than that (OK, I figured they'd put up a lot more fight. Sue me). It seemed like with the exception of their one win, the Jazz got blown out of every game in this series. Maybe it came down to a case of everything the Jazz could do, San Antonio did better (which is the same problem I think Detroit would have had, if they made it to the Finals). Boozer's a good inside presence? Duncan's a great one. Deron Williams is a really good slash and shoot guard? Parker and Manu combined more than overcome his contributions (though I'm not sure either was better by themselves). So on and so forth. So the Spurs have taken care of business again.

So, the actual Finals:

San Antonio/Cleveland - Spurs in 4. What, you want some explanantion? OK, fine. James is great, there's little doubt he's (at what, 22?) hitting those expectations everyone laid out for him. If he keeps up the level of play he did those last few Conference Finals game, I could wind up looking very silly (not in terms of the Spurs losing the series, but the Cavs at least making it interesting). That said, the Spurs don't have an "off switch" like Detroit. San Antonio just has different gears. They play in a lower gear most of the regular season to conserve strength, then go to those higher gears when the playoffs come around. They look like they're in their highest gear right now, and they've already rolled through three teams I'd say were at least as good as Cleveland. Plus, I just don't see the Spurs D letting LeBron run wild like Detroit did. His teammates are gonna have to do more. A lot more. Can they? They did in Game 6 (well, Daniel Gibson anyway), but consistently? I seriously doubt it.

Of course, everybody said the Cardinals were gonna get steamrolled by the Tigers last fall, so I could look real stupid in about two weeks, but then again, I'm not getting paid for this like all those analysts were.