Monday, June 04, 2007
It goes without saying that the League offices have to be overwhelmingly satisfied with the results of the Eastern Conference Finals. Lebron James, Boobie, and some other guys are representing the Eastern Conference. Better yet, they're doing so with the blessing of the Basketball Moses himself, Bill Russell (he presented the trophy that James holds aloft). Most amazing of all perhaps is that James changed the way he is portrayed and probably the way he will play in a single game. In game 5 Lebron certainly put on a great performance. I'm not among the chorus that would consider it one of the best performances in NBA history. Nonetheless, this performance showed that Lebron is capable of taking over a game and winning it single handledly. Given the sorid state of affairs in the Eastern Conference, it almost guarantees that we can expect to see Lebron in this position for the next 8 years at least. And thus he's starting to realize the massive promise that has been pushed in our faces since he first came into the league.
Can Lebron continue his ascent to the heights of the league by conquering the Spurs in this series? The reaction of Kenny, Charles, and Reggie on Inside the NBA after Lebron and Boobie vanquished the Pistons when asked this question by Ernie was telling. They all laughed and said no way. And this is not an indictment of Lebron at all. It's an indictment of his team, which is poorly constructed. If not for the very compelling emergence of Daniel Gibson, a second round draft pick this year, the Cavaliers would likely be at home right now. The Spurs are simply the better team and it shows in every facet of their game. Their passing, their defensive rotations, and their unselfish play. Lebron is too physical to be stopped by Bruce Bowen alone, but the Spurs will play disciplined team defense against Lebron and the Cavs. They will not take their opponent for granted, like the Pistons did and have frustratingly done for the last four seasons.
What do I predict for this series? I'm compelled to think that San Antonio will sweep the Cavs. I'm reminded of Shaquille O'Neals first appearance in the finals where he met the veteran Hakeem and his well rounded Rockets. These Cavs are less talented than those Magic as O'Neals team was not as entirely dependent on one player as the Cavs are. It's nice to have a fresh face in the finals to be sure, but the Cavs are not ready to threaten the Spurs for basketball dominance. Spurs 4-0.