Keep the Ball Moving
Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE/Getty Images
SAN ANTONIO, June 8, 2007 -- The Spurs watched film today, but I'm not sure there was much to go over defensively. After Game 1 last night, Robert Horry said that the Spurs executed their defensive schemes to a T.

Now, the Spurs will never tell you the ins and outs of those schemes (believe me, I've tried to get the details out of them), but the rules are hard and fast. And as Matt Bonner puts it, if they aren't followed, "it's obvious."

"It's oriented to push the ball in certain areas," Jacque Vaughn said, "to allow certain shots. And when we do that as a unit, those stats tend to bear in our favor."

Those stats being the opponents assist numbers. Last night's nine dimes was Cleveland's second lowest total of the season, and that's a real concern for Cavs assistant coach Hank Egan.

"It's what we don't want to happen," Egan said today. "That ball has got to move."

When asked if the lack of movement was just a result of the Spurs' defense, or if the Cavs' shared some blame, Egan said that it was "a little bit of both."

Zydrunas Ilgauskas agreed.

"We didn't move the ball," Ilgauskas said. "We held the ball too much. And when you do that against a good defensive team, they just load to the ball and they make you take a tough shot. So, we need to move the ball. A lot of times there was just one pass and a shot, one pass and a shot."

In contrast, the Spurs moved the ball quickly and crisply, finding the open man when Tim Duncan was doubled in the post. Robert Horry had a season-high six assists, a result of making the extra pass on the perimeter.

And Cavs coach Mike Brown couldn't help but admire the way his opponent moved the ball.

"When you send a double team at anybody, they have great experience, they have great patience, especially Tim," Brown said today. "They make the simple pass. They make the simple pass and they rely on that guy making that next pass."

"We chart something, we call them hockey assists, where it's not necessarily a guy -- me making a pass right here for that guy to score, but me making a pass to him so he can make the next pass for a basket. You know, we haven't charted the Spurs, but I imagine that the Spurs got to lead the league in hockey assists, and that's why Bruce gets a lot of those threes in the corner. It's not necessarily from Tim on the double team, but it's from pass, pass, pass or pass, driving kick to pass. That makes him really dangerous when a team is willing to move the basketball like that and they trust one another the way that the Spurs do."

It sounds like Brown would like his team to do the same. But they'll have to figure out where the passing lanes are against the stingy Spurs defense.

Beware a Motivated LeBron

But was the LeBron James' poor offensive night strictly a result of the Spurs' defense? Or will we see a more aggressive LeBron in Game 2?

Gregg Popovich believes that James will come out with a different mentality on Sunday.

"Well, LeBron is a great competitor," Popovich said, "obviously very gifted, and he'll do everything he can to be more aggressive for both himself and for teammates. I think you'll just see somebody who's even more focused than he was in Game 1."

Michael Finley agrees.

"We have to go into the game knowing he's going to adjust," Finley said. "He's going to be a lot more aggressive from the jump ball and we just have to say if our defensive adjustments, and hopefully that will be enough."

Lines of the Day

Brent Barry on Bruce Bowen guarding him in the playoffs when Barry played for the Sonics:
"I think he was guarding me when I got out of my car, coming into the arena."

Michael Finley, when asked if where the Spurs were like the Bad Boys, because of their defensive reputation:
"Oh no, we're not the Bad Boys. We're good guys. We're guys who help ladies across the street, open doors..."

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