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Monday, June 11th, 2007 at 8:29 am  |  59 responses

Too much too soon. Too little too late

3 quarters of SPURS 1 quarter of CAVS

By Sam Rubenstein

I thought that I would wake up and be unable to write about anything other than The Sopranos finale. As it turns out, I have no interest in going there. Don’t even worry about spoiler possibilities. Like millions of others (thousands?) I turned to Game Two of The Finals as soon as me and my friends had finished coming up with creative ways to decide how disappointed we were in the ending. The score of the game at that time was 49-27.

From what I have been told by the four horsemen of the apocalypse known as Grant Hill, Jon Barry, Mike Wilbon, and Dan Patrick, it was Mike Brown’s decision to sit LeBron with 2 fouls early on. Um… well that certainly is playing it by the book. The Cavs are outmanned, outclassed, out-everythinged, even with LeBron playing. Remove him from the equation… ugly. I don’t know if Mike Brown is aware of this, but when you are the underdog, sometimes you have to take “crazy” risks to make up for the difference. Would LeBron have picked up his third foul in the first quarter? If so, could that have possibly made things any worse for Cleveland? One thing the first half did was prove that the hype is real, the Cleveland Cavaliers truly are one of the worst teams ever to make it to the NBA Finals. If LeBron is out of the game, they should just walk the ball up, let the shot clock expire without taking a shot, and stall for time until he can come back in.

Meanwhile the Spurs continue to play flawlessly. Tony Parker has been hit or miss in the playoffs this year, and for the past two games, it’s been HIT HIT HIT!!! Sure, they had the puff piece of all puff pieces at halftime on his wedding to Eva, but right now Tony might be the favorite to win Finals MVP. This would be a good summer for him.

And then there is the Cavalier comeback in the fourth quarter. San Antonio started choking a little bit, and there was a brief moment where it felt like the greatest comeback ever was possible. Cleveland attacked, hit some shots, got to the line, came up with stops, all of the things that happen on a huge run. LeBron blatantly elbowing Manu in the face with no call on the play? That’s what Manu gets for crying wolf so many times. Justice! That was a direct shot to the face and the refs reaction must have been “Oh look. There’s Manu being Manu again.” But this one time he actually belonged on the floor and the offensive foul should have been called on the other player. Too bad. Flopper.

Of course he flopped on a three a few moments later and created the four-point play. The fingertips of Daniel Gibson are enough to send a grown man much bigger than himself flying through the air in dramatic agony. Cleveland’s rally fell short when they started going to the offensive set called, um, swing the ball around dangerously and hope for a deep contested three? Mike Brown is a good defensive coach – not in the first three quarters last night – but he usually is. On the offensive side, well, LeBron.

Cleveland fans have never seen their team in The Finals. They should be VERY fired up, even being down 0-2. LeBron should receive some calls. I dunno man, it’s hard to make a case for them. Sadly, the Spurs would have been ready to overlook them and give a game away if not for what happened in the fourth quarter. One of the most important facts to remember about the ’06-’07 season is that the Eastern Conference was inferior. For their champion to be swept without mercy, it puts a nice exclamation point on the conference gap. The Spurs can do this. Can Cleveland really overcome back-to-back 0-2 deficits? That is asking for a lot from them.

Two other big stories to mention are of course the JR Smith car accident and Gilbert Arenas’s decision to opt out. Thankfully JR is okay, even it was his own fault for ignoring a stop sign. Let’s just hope that his passenger Andre Bell, who is only 21 years old, is alright. Gilbert’s money decision? Yup, it is just a business even for the goofballs. A few months ago when I wrote my “Which NBA Player Are You” column for the magazine, I used Gilbert and Jim Carrey. Soon you will be able to add another category to that, something about them being wealthy beyond your wildest dreams so don’t be fooled by the funnyman act. If you are a regular freedarko reader, you know that JR and Gilbert are their patron saints, even moreso than Darko himself. Looking forward to their upcoming classic on those topics today. If they so choose.

Lang and I are headed out to Cleveland tomorrow. If it’s a sweep, it’s a nice three-day trip, two NBA Finals games to watch, seeing the champion crowned, and enough free time to do some other stuff (ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME!!! That didn’t need to be all caps.). If the Cavs can win a game, we’re there until Sunday night. We will be loaded with coverage, much like Lang and the Bens were over this past weekend.

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  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    ABC’s halftime “coverage” last night was the worst 20 minutes in TV history.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Watching ABC’s halftime coverage shortly after watching the Sopranos finale was like eating a really good meal followed by a desert that is not satisfying. I am the king of metaphor.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Also: Hi, Sam.

  • Steve O

    I almost smashed my TV after the finale last night, horrible ending… even tougher game to watch.

  • doctaj

    ={ no more sopranos.={

  • http://www.myspace.com/aydreeyun Esco

    Indeed Ryan, you are. I wonder how much Sam makes per comment?

  • Decs

    I hope tony win finals mvp. tim duncan has been hogging them all lately…

  • mike b

    I hope that ABC can work something out and get the crew from TNT to work the games. ABC is so stiff. The pregame/halftime show was as hard to watch as the game itself.

  • R7

    Cleveland gameplan:
    Make it so boring and easy for the spurs that they stop caring, use a late run, hope for overtime and give LeBron a chance 2 win it.
    Worked game 5, almost did yesterday

  • Harlem_World

    This is like watching Varsity go up against middle school. SA haven’t even needed to go to their 3rd or 4th options yet. When you have ‘experts’ (Scottie Pippen, anyone?) saying the Cavs best bet is to let Eric Snow loose, you really don’t need to know anything else about this horrible mismatch.

  • whooo!

    slam, you shoulda had someone in cleveland who saw the game in ‘high def 3d,’ if only to see just how that turned out – maybe a reader can let us in on it, cuz that sounded really cool. seeing THAT game as a cavs fan in 3d though…

  • deestarbuckz the Notorious H.A.T.E.

    GO CAVS! I am keeping the faith! In the meanwhile I watched the Sopranos finale and felt incomplete! I was waiting for something more I suppose. Especially after how the next to last episode ended. I now will check my gear shift twice before getting outta my car, won’t park on any leaves, and never expect Meadow to do the parking if we ever go out!

  • http://mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Max Airington

    Last nights Sopranos finale would be like if MJ stole the ball from Malone with seconds left in the game, raced upcourt, shook Russell….and then just dribbbled out the shot clock. Ridiculous. Last nights game? Ew.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Max, I know you’re not that guy who can’t appreciate that ending.

  • Joel O’s

    Mark Jackson wildly exclaiming after a weak looking Ilgauskas hook shot that Kareem would be watching and going “YAH! THAT’S HOW I DID IT!!!” and then having JVG immediately shoot him down was awkward but funny. In all honesty, Ilgauskas’ shot looks nothing like Kareem’s sky hook. Mark Jackson musta gotten his hands on some of Bill Walton’s stash…

  • http://mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Max Airington

    Ryan, Journey?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    I’m sorry Max, but I thought that sh*t was great. Had you thinking a million different ways it COULD end, all of which would have been a cliche one way or another. Realistically — and you’re not allowed to type this here, obviously — but how could they have made it better in a way that would’ve stayed true to what made the show great in the first place, which was primarily how original it was?

  • Brian

    The air came out of the balloon a little after the sit down with NY. That said though, Phil’s death was well done. The final scene definitely had me tense. I liked how agent Harris was kind of mini Tony. Is there any way the finale could have been any good? Everything sucks! The Finals, Sopranos. Let’s get it out of the way now, the World Series is boring!!!

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    BRIAN. NO SPOILERS. DID YOU MISS THAT?

  • ER III

    This is my idea of what the NBA needs to do so that we dont get stuck watching lop sided basketball when it counts the most. When we get to the Eastern and Western Conference final, we need to have a crossover, the highest seed in the West plays the lowest seed in the East and vise versa! Then if we end up with a Dallas-Phoenix or Miami-Detroit final then at least the best 2 teams have mad it, not the best in the leauge and the fifteenth. Then instead of having the western and eastern trophys, call them the Jordan and Bird Trophys so Jordans legacy cant be tarnished by all of these horrible comparisons, (other then Kobe).

  • http://mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Max Airington

    My lady felt the same way. You can have her. She said the ending was just a reflection of the endless monotony of that mob life and that the song was an implication that life does indeed go on. I feel that, but at the same time this was supposed to be one of the most iconic television moments of our time and all I got was onion rings. Chase said that from the beginning of the series he knew how he was gonna end it. I guess I just had something bigger in mind than he did.

  • http://slamonline.com Jon

    what can we do to get the Finals on TNT?

  • http://mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Max Airington

    Hope that doesnt spoil anything.

  • Brian

    Apparently. Did I mis-read this? ‘Don’t even worry about spoiler possibilities. ‘

  • Brian

    Max, there is a pretty good review of the finale @ http://blog.nj.com/alltv/2007/06/sopranos_rewind_made_in_americ.html#more. You may find that useful. A little anti-climatic, but interesting.

  • http://slamonline.com Sam Rubenstein

    I meant to say that I wouldn’t be the one spoiling it, and hopefully nobody else will – even though it’s everywhere right now.
    OKAY SHORT SPOLIER WARNING: Game 7… 98-97 Spurs with 4 seconds on the clock… LeBron breaks through the double team… Duncan steps up… he fades back to attempt the game winning shot…

  • Brian

    Great. Did Ryan rat me out? Your comment is awaiting moderation.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Brian, comments with cut-and-paste links always get moderated (which is why I type mine in)…
    And Max, here’s a take that pretty well echoes how I saw it:
    http://www.avclub.com/content/blog/the_way_things_end_the_sopranos

  • http://yahoo.com DP

    Mane! I thought the Cavs were going to do it last night but it was not possible. LeBron is doing everything he possibly can but his supporting cast is just not enough. Boobie is doing his job but everyone else is just gone with the wind. The Cavs just need to get their heads together for these next three home games and all will be well. I hope. play wit it.

  • http://espn.com Reggie Evans

    LeBron should have just quit when his team was down 20+ points.

    Also, I think I saw him say “trade me” as he was sitting on the bench.

  • http://mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Max Airington

    Ryan, your link and Brian’s essentially touched on the same points although the NJ article was a bit more expanisve. Thanks for both of the links guys. I see the point and its actually pretty appropriate, but Im still pretty disappointed. David Simon > David Chase.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ben Collins

    I thought maybe they should’ve ended it with “Heaven Isn’t Too Far Away.” Still get that makes-you-want-to-vomit, cheesy-80s feel but makes it even more tense. I understand the Don’t Stop Believing thing, but Journey? JOURNEY!? This just proves David Chase listens to soft rock stations. I am also truly proud of myself for staying with that game until Cleveland made a run. Watching that game was like counting the days to a really lame holiday.

  • http://andresc123.livejournal.com/ Andres David

    Flopper? That kills me. Homeboy is just paying tribute to the past, Maradona. That four point play was the “hand of god” foul. This isn’t the 1920s ahole, there are no floppers in the NBA. Plus Vlade Divac retired a couple of years ago.

  • Steve O

    Manu is the worst flopper in the NBA, his uniform should be a 1920′s floppers dress

  • tike

    Is it me or is Tony Parker playing over his head??…dudes gunning for that MVP and he may get it….Sam, Ryan…wats ur take on Pretty Tony?

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Tony Parker will be almost exactly statistically half as effective in Cleveland as he was in San Antonio. Watch.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    I didn’t watch a single Sopranos episode this season and don’t feel bad at all about it. P.S. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame sucks.

  • Steve O

    Tony Parker has been on “Top of the Game” so far unlike this song

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=8KeYo8rpnVo

  • Heri

    If Parker gets that Finals MVP trophy, it’ll definitely be the worst season we’ve seen in a long time. Two europeans (and I’m european!) getting the two most important individual trophies in the same season, I scream WHERE’S THE NBA HEADING TO ?!!

  • http://slamonline.com Sam Rubenstein

    tike, the male-dominated media is afraid to report the truth. Tony’s inspired play is coming because of the non-contact gauntlet Eva threw down. Either that or it could be Larry Hughes is guarding him and can barely move.

  • tike

    ok with that said…is Pretty Tony MVP getting the MVP?

  • http://espn.com Reggie Evans

    Don’t be a Euro Hater.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Khalid Salaam

    the sopranos was awesome. f*ck that. what did everybody want? a mass murder/suicide? it was a surprise and a good ending to a amazing show….also me and omar saw knocked up over the wknd. sh*t is nuts…

  • http://www.slamonline.com Khalid Salaam

    If the sopranos had ended with some bloody cliche or with tony turning it would have destroyed the integrity of the show. it was a smart ending. an honorable ending.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Khalid, for a second I thought you wrote “me and omar got knocked up,” and I was really worried. I’m glad neither of you is pregnant. And we agree fully on Sopranos.

  • J-Bird

    Go see Knocked Up, f*cking hilarious

  • http://www.slamonline.com Khalid Salaam

    ryan is crazy lol…..

  • http://slamonline.com Sam Rubenstein

    Lang wrote a Sopranos post, so go there for spoilers.

  • http://www.myspace.com/aydreeyun Esco

    Oh man, Ryan is one funny dude!

  • http://www.nba.com Both Teams Played Hard

    last night after the game at the press conference, a chinese reporter asked tony parker if he thought hed be the finals mvp. tonys reaction was priceless

  • tike

    Lang, or you out of your sportwriting mind…The sorpranos disapointed me very much…i mean blank screen like i thought my cable went out..they def needed a better ending..i smell a movie in the making!

  • tike

    did i say lang oops i mean Khalid…some say khalid some say khalee…haaha

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    I was intrigued by the question early in the comments about the 3D screen in Cleveland? Did any slamheads go to that??? Please inform if you did.

  • http://slamonline.com Sam Rubenstein

    The rock & roll hall of fame really isn’t that exciting, but I’ve been looking into things to do in Cleveland and I haven’t found much else. I just like being a reverse tourist, a native New Yorker that goes to the heartland and takes photos and annoys people.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Khalid Salaam

    your cable probably did go out.

  • http://www.nba.com Both Teams Played Hard

    greatest blog ever, except maybe mr. swag. http://www.nba.com/finals2007/barry_blog.html

  • bigmike407

    Tell me why the Cavs can’t do anything with Tony Parker? He got LBJ in early foul trouble, and proceeded to cook Gibson and Hughes in his limited minutes. Dude is running past people like AI in ’99. I thought this might be a problem for them since they did not have a quick defender to handle him, but he is killing them right now. Duncan will be Duncan, which is an efficient, highlight-starved game that no one can stop. LBJ is trying, but his help is coming too late in the games. If they play 4 quarters like the 4Q last night, they might win one. But they have to find a way to hold down Parker, or it will be a sweep. TP for MVP anyone?

  • Chukaz

    Hughes ain’t guarding Tony, is he? Ain’t Bron the one letting Tony get to the hole whenever he wants to? Anyways, Boobie wasn’t D up Tony that much, but I think he was done a decent job at it. Come on Mike Bronw, step yo game up!!!!!!!

  • Holiday

    Anybody that dosen’t think Ginobli is a flopper see’s as well as the Cavaliers owner! And The Sopranos finale could have aired twice and the rerun would have been more entertaining to people that watched it the first time adn anybody else than the whole NBA Finals!

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