Cleveland Cavs Finals Preview
Cleveland Cavaliers vs San Antonio Spurs
In the playoffs, the Cleveland Cavaliers have managed to roll with the punches. LeBron James has become a monster player and rookie Daniel Gibson has stepped up, giving the Cavs a new and powerful weapon.
The backcourt includes veteran point guard Larry Hughes (14.9 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.7 APG). Hughes is a solid shooter and passer and an excellent defender. He’ll need to use his defensive skills against the fast moving, sharp shooting Spurs. Due to an injury, Hughes saw limited playing time in much of the Detroit series.
Listed at shooting guard, Sasha Pavlovic (9.0 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 1.6 APG) really plays swing at guard/forward. He’s got fairly good hands and offers more defense in the backcourt, possessing steal skills.
Up front, the Cavaliers are more than LeBron James. At center, Zydrunas Ilgauskas (11.9 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.3 BPG) gives this team a solid big man who can stop the opposition. On offense, he’s a 49% inside shooter and hits 81% from the free throw line. He’s good on the block and handy on the steal.
Power forward Drew Gooden (11.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 1.1 APG) has a solid shot and, once again, fine defensive skills. Gooden is a tenacious rebounder and most effective inside. Against Detroit, he picked his game up a notch.
Small forward LeBron James (27.3 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 6 APG) brought his entire game and more against Detroit. James can hit from inside and out and when doubled-up can find the open man. In the playoffs, he’s upped his foul shot accuracy from a season average of 70% to 77%. Like the rest of the team, the man can play “D.” Against the Pistons he averaged 2.67 steals and .50 blocks per game for a 3.17 TO.
The Cavs carry a deep bench. Rookie guard Daniel Gibson averaged 24.7 MPG against Detroit. Averaging 13.5 PPG, he hit 46% from the court, 50% from downtown and 89% from the foul line. Gibson opened up his game when Hughes got injured and had to cut back on his playing time.
Cleveland carries a solid veteran presence on the bench. Forward Donyell Marshall is an important defensive force able to give quality minutes, while forward/center Anderson Varejao, playing in his third NBA season, gives the team another fine inside shooter (48%), rebounding smarts (6.7 RPG) and defensive prowess (1.33 SPG and .67 BPG Vs. Detroit). Veteran point guard Eric Snow (4.2 PPG, 4.0 APG, 0.7 SPG) has seen limited action in the playoffs.
The Cavs probably can’t outgun the Spurs, but they have the potential to control the boards, limit second shots and control the tempo of the game. They have to play clean or they’ll get beat at the foul line and Cleveland must use their defense to limit San Antonio’s lethal 3-point game.
Many experts point to the Cavaliers’ inexperience as being the key to their ultimate downfall in this series. But this team’s defensive skills are finely tuned and have served them well throughout the playoffs. In this post-season, they’ve beaten the 2006 champs Miami and the team that most considered the best in the East—Detroit. They can win it all. Don’t count them out, even if they lose the first two.
The finals are here and keep riding Maddux Sports for NBA playoff articles on the 2007 pro basketball postseason. If you are NBA betting consider ordering our NBA betting picks from the 2006 NBA ultimate handicapping champion Maddux Sports.