The NBA got exactly what it wanted over the weekend as one of it's most bankable stars advanced to the NBA Finals to take the team everyone loves to hate, the San Antonio Spurs. Though if I were David Stern I'd feel a lot better about Cleveland's chances if Wise and Co. were suiting up aside LeBron than the cast of misfits who are. That said, I do think Cleavland has a chance despite my snap reaction of Spurs in six.
Why do I think Cleveland has a chance? Simple. Last season Dallas looked like a slam dunk champion when Miami knocked off Detroit to advance to the Finals. Yet Dwayne Wade put his team on his back and took the trophy home to South Beach. I realize Wade had Shaq, along with many other decent, if not solid players around him. While LeBron has... well LeBron has himself and that's really all he needs, isn't it? The short answer would be no. As I'd take D-Wade's Jordan like potential over LeBron's Magic like potential any day of the week. But given what we seen against Detroit you have to believe Cleveland can beat San Antonio.
To do it though, those role players are going to have been even bigger and better than they were against a Detroit team that just doesn't have it anymore. Below is what MUST happen for Cleveland to even force seven games. Let alone win the whole damn thing.
1) Cleveland must out rebound San Antonio by a decent margin. I'm thinking 7-10 boards per game. As the more opportunity LeBron has to work against Bruce Bowen the better off Cleveland will be.
2) Daniel Gibson and the rest of LeBron's "sidekicks" (are they even worthy of being sidekicks?) have got to make all of their shots. And I mean all. One 5-5 from three game after another from Gibson is what it's going to take.
3) Varejao must flop convincingly against Tim Duncan. None of the obvious flop stuff. He's got to sell 'em like he never has before. Otherwise Duncan will routinely dominate every single big man Cleveland has on the inside. Not ONE of them can even hold his jock. Not one. Foul trouble is Cleveland's only shot.
4) Eric Snow, Larry Hughes and Daniel Gibson have got to keep Tony Parker in front of them. Something that they will not be able to do. Hughes maybe but with his bad ankle I expect Parker to abuse him off the dribble time and again.
5) Have Ira Newble take out Manu Ginobli in game 1. A major clothesline would do the trick. If all goes well Ginobli misses a game or two and Cleveland has a real chance to win this damn thing. Newble can afford the suspension. He doesn't play anyway.
Odds are only the rebounding is a possibility. Though if #5 becomes a reality anythings possible. In the end the Spurs are better, they have more "experience" (though I hate that argument), and Cleveland is over matched at nearly every position.
I'd have to think LeBron will win at least one game and just to cover myself I'll give the Cavs two. That's right, my snap judgment of Spurs in 6 is what I'm sticking with. But I've been wrong before and I'll be wrong again. And I sure as hell won't be shocked if LeBron finds a way one bias call after another to slay the giant that is the San Antonio Spurs. David Stern would certainly be happy. Now if only he hadn't helped cost Phoenix that series he'd be even happier. As they'd likely be ushering in the new generation of fast offense on the NBA's biggest stage against the NBA's more marketable star. Instead though, Stern must settle for this. Two small market teams, one superstar, and one loaded defensive juggernaut.
Disagreements? I'm dying to see someone pick Cleveland in less than seven. I need a good laugh.