San Antonio Spurs Finals Preview
Cleveland Cavaliers vs San Antonio Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs have handled the Nuggets, Warriors and Jazz with good shooting from the floor and the foul line, a fine tuned defense and one of the best off-the-bench players in the game—Manu Ginobili.
The backcourt is served by point guard Tony Parker (18.6 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 5.5 APG). In the playoffs, Parker has a 3.38 TO and is averaging 1.19 SPG. But his shooting has, for the most part, been off. Normally 52% from the field, he’s 46% in the post-season. His 3-point percentage plummeted from 40% to 21% and free throws fell from 78% to 71%.
Shooting guard and guard/forward swing Michael Finley (9 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 1.3 APG) has been able to step-up, hitting 46% from the floor. His 92% free throw percentage is exceptional. He’s not the most proficient defensive force on the court but is not a liability either.
Upfront, small forward Bruce Bowen (6.2 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 1.4 APG) uses his skilled hands to swipe balls away from opponents (1.63 SPG in the 2007 playoffs). An accurate inside and outside shooter, he’s been especially tough from downtown, hitting 46% of his threes. His ability to play inside and out helps keep defenses off balance.
Center Francisco Elson (5 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 0.8 BPG) won’t take many shots but he’ll hit a lot of the shots that he does take. He’s seen limited playing time in the post-season and has been primarily a defensive force, making blocks and steals.
At 31 years old, veteran power forward Tim Duncan (20 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 2.4 BPG) is at the top of his game. A great inside player, Duncan hits 54% of his shots and is an excellent rebounder able to create second shots off the offensive boards. On defense, he’s a fine shot blocker, averaging 3.31 BPG in the post-season. Not an outside threat, Duncan will spend a lot of time in the frontcourt.
Off the bench, the Spurs feature shooting guard Manu Ginobili (16.5 PPG, 3.5 APG, 40% 3-PT) and guard Brent Barry (8.5 PPG, 1.8 APG, 47% 3-PT). Ginobili proved to be a powerhouse against the Jazz, hitting 48% from the floor, 48% from downtown and 74% from the free throw line. He uses his quickness and court smarts to snag rebounds and draw fouls.
During the playoffs, Barry’s usually effective shooting went south until the series against the Jazz when he started to find the mark again. He needs to continue to hit shots consistently, giving Ginobili some room to breathe.
Center Fabricio Oberto (4.4 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 0.3 BPG) is an important substitute, knocking down 67% from the field and grabbing 5.1 rebounds per game. Against the Jazz, he connected on 70% of his field goals and took in 7.8 rebounds.
The Spurs should be concerned with Parker’s fall-off in production. With a tough inside team like Cleveland, the Spurs will need as many outside points as they can get. Ginobili’s output has been essential in San Antonio’s success but one more guy, like Barry, needs to be more reliable.
Playing their patented defense, shutting down James and Gibson and hitting from the outside to soften up the Cavs’ inside will give the Spurs this series. If they can get Cleveland to make mistakes and foul, San Antonio, with their charity stripe sharpshooters, will have a decided advantage.
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