Let’s notcrown SAtoo soon

Jun 12, 2007 5:54 AM

It comes as no surprise that the San Antonio Spurs have taken a two games to none lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.

All the Spurs did was win a pair of home games, covering in the process. But the ease with which the Spurs controlled the meaningful minutes of both games was somewhat surprising considering how well the Cavs had played against the Spurs during the regular season and in dispatching the very experienced Detroit Pistons in six games to win the Eastern Conference Title.

But let’s not proclaim the Spurs NBA Champions just yet. We need look back no further than last season to find a team that won the first two games of the NBA Finals but failed to win the Title. In fact, after winning the first two at home and seemingly in control in Game 3 in Miami, the Dallas Mavericks proceeded to not just lose that contest but four straight as the Heat won the Title in six games — a scenario identical to that in which the Cavs captured this season’s Eastern title.

Yet at the same time let’s not overlook some obvious differences between this season and last.

Both of last season’s participants were lacking in Finals experience. San Antonio has outstanding experience having won three titles over the past decade. Cleveland is making their first Finals appearance.

San Antonio has played well on the road, both in the regular season and in the playoffs. It is unlikely that the Spurs would lose all three games in Cleveland, forcing a Game 6 back home trailing 3-2 in the series.

Cleveland was badly outplayed for much of games one and two but now return home for the next two games and a potential game five if they can win one of the next two games.

San Antonio opened pretty much as a 1 to 1½ point road favorite for Game 3 in Cleveland. That’s not too surprising given their play in Games 1 and 2 and also the fact that the Spurs were pretty much 7-point home favorites in those games. Cleveland’s best chance for a win in the series should be in Game 3 and getting them as a small underdog is a plus.

Should the Cavs lose Game 3 then San Antonio likely wraps up the series in either Game 4 or 5.

Preferred plays:

”¡ Thus the preferred strategy for the next few games would be to play on Cleveland in Game 3. If the Cavs win that contest to pull within a game of squaring the series you might consider passing on Game 4 with an eye towards playing San Antonio in Game 5. The Spurs will be looking to either wrap up the series or take a three games to two lead heading back to San Antonio.

”¡ The UNDER is still the preferred totals play even though Game 2 was relatively high scoring (195) and the line had been adjusted downwards by several points since Game 1. Game 2 eclipsed the total largely because the Spurs got out to an early double digit lead and Cleveland was forced to quicken the pace.

If Game 3 is played more competitively — as it should with the weaker team, Cleveland, playing at home and more likely to dictate tempo — the final points should be again in the upper 160’s to low 170’s.