Position-By-Position Matchups for the NBA Finals
Posted Jun 3 2007 6:48PM
A position-by-position look at the matchups in the NBA finals between the San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers.
CENTER: Fabricio Oberto vs. Zydrunas Ilgauskas. The Spurs rarely run plays for Oberto, but he makes the most of his chances, shooting 67 percent in the postseason. He had three double-figure scoring games in the Western Conference finals. Ilgauskas, still one of the best offensive centers in the Eastern Conference, is shooting 52.5 percent in the playoffs. The Cavs usually look for him early in each half. Edge: Cavaliers.
POWER FORWARD: Tim Duncan vs. Drew Gooden. A three-time NBA finals MVP, Duncan has been at the top of his game in this postseason, averaging 23.2 points and 11.4 rebounds while shooting 53.9 percent from the field and playing excellent defense. The Cavaliers' best hope here might be that reserve Anderson Varejao can frustrate Duncan, but rarely does Duncan seem bothered by anything. Edge: Spurs.
SMALL FORWARD: Bruce Bowen vs. LeBron James. Bowen is one of the NBA's top perimeter defenders and has agitated a number of offensive stars with his tactics, including Steve Nash during the second round. But he struggled when matched against Deron Williams in the conference finals and now gets an even tougher test. When James aggressively attacks the basket, nobody in the NBA can stop him, and if the Spurs force him to give up the ball, he'll usually get it to teammates in the right spot. Edge: Cavaliers.
SHOOTING GUARD: Michael Finley vs. Sasha Pavlovic. Finally getting his shot at a ring, Finley is still a dangerous outside shooter who fits in perfectly with the veteran Spurs. Pavlovic averaged 16 points in the first two games of the East semifinals, but his game has stalled since. He has scored in double figures only twice in the last 10 games, and shot just 6-for-24 in the last three. Edge: Spurs.
POINT GUARD: Tony Parker vs. Larry Hughes. The Spurs are no longer solely a halfcourt team, thanks to the continue improvement of the speedy Parker. His ability to break down defenses and set up San Antonio's 3-point shooters opens things up for Duncan, and his own jumper has become more reliable. Hughes will try to contain him on a sore foot and hope to provide some offense at the same time, but his shot has been shaky in the postseason. Rookie Daniel Gibson, who scored a career-high 31 points in the conference finals clincher, has taken some of the pressure off with his strong play. Edge: Spurs.
RESERVES: Manu Ginobili, Robert Horry, Brent Barry, Jacque Vaughn and Francisco Elson vs. Varejao, Gibson, Donyell Marshall, Damon Jones and Eric Snow. The Cavs' best lineup might be when they have Varejao on the floor for energy and rebounding, along with Gibson and Marshall or Jones for perimeter shooting. Ginobili is one of the NBA's top sixth men, playing starter's minutes. Barry and Horry, a clutch postseason performer, must be watched around the 3-point line. Edge: Spurs.
COACHES: Gregg Popovich vs. Mike Brown. Brown spent three years as Popovich's assistant and has turned the Cavs into a team that is every bit as tough as the Spurs on the defensive end. The Cavs have won 50 games in each of his two seasons. But experience counts extra this time of year, and three victorious trips to the finals have given Popovich plenty of it. Edge: Spurs.
Spurs' coach Gregg Popovich and Cavaliers' coach Mike Brown
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