Wednesday, June 6

When The Curtains Fall

In a few hours, the final series of the season will commence, and the two chosen teams representing their respective conference will gut it out for the supreme title of NBA Champions. They will do it for their cities, their conferences, their divisions, their friends, their family, their pride, and most importantly: for themselves and each other. When the final buzzer sounds in the final game of the series, there will be two possible outcomes: Either the series will be one of the greatest series of all time, or things will unfold much worse than expected and we can all just thank the morning paper for keeping us all updated with the happenings. With all the running sub-plots and questions, the world will altogether feast their eyes on Game 1 of the NBA Finals in hopes of appeasing the hunger for gut-wrenching NBA basketball. So, will this series be one of the greatest, or do we introduce ourselves to a good book? Only these plots and their respective outcomes are capable of answering such wonderment, behold:

LeBron James. The rise of the King will finally be put to the test against Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs. After basically sailing through the first half of the season, people slowly lost notice of LeBron James and the progress of his Cavs. It was only until his re-emergence in the second half of the season when people's eyes were once again captured by the rise of his play, only to come to a screeching halt in the playoffs, mainly because of the first two pathetic playoff rounds that the Cavaliers stomped through. Once the competent opponent was finally placed to test The King and his men, the Cavaliers answered back with conviction and took the Eastern Conference Crown, and LeBron James and his team are finally back in the headlines once more. Now facing one of the biggest challenges they have ever encountered this season, LeBron James will look to continue his dominance and lead his team to victory over the giants, the San Antonio Spurs. Will LeBron James go beyond expectations this year and make a name for himself, as well as breaking free of the overshadowing of Kobe Bryant and other similar comparisons? Will LeBron James finally make doubters bow down before him in awe as he stands victorious with the Larry O'Brien Trophy held high above his head? How far will he go? Divide and make way, for the King has finally arrived.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, other than LeBron James. About ninety-percent of the NBA-watchers' total population still believes that LeBron James is a one-man-team. I have to admit, I am a part of that huge chunk of mess; save for one game, the Cavaliers' final game against the Pistons where a brick suddenly dropped on my head and reminded me that LeBron James has left the door open in welcome of whoever might still want to join him in the court. Lebron's teammates have garnered criticisms of all types, shapes, and sizes, but basically saying one thing in unison: "You guys are worthless". However, in the past series, a spark of hope was ignited and rekindled a realization that things might be totally different in the NBA Finals after all, the Cleveland Cavaliers might actually decide to step into that court with LeBron James and play some basketball. The Cavaliers-not-named-LeBron that I will keep both my eyes on will primarily be Daniel Gibson and Anderson Varejao. I've already stated my praise regarding the two, and will now be expecting to see some much-needed additional firepower from Daniel Gibson, and the usual nut-busting endeavors sought out by Anderson Varejao, but this time not against middle-aged adolescents but: Tim Duncan and his European brigade in the middle. Another drug, painful but addicting, that I will be caught on is watching the play of Larry Hughes. Yes, he is painful to watch, but I can't seem to keep my eyes off him to monitor how many more turnovers, missed lay-ups, and muffed jumpers he will take. On the bright side, he does have a decent defense; but the cons outweigh the pros no-contest. Will the Cleveland Cavaliers finally have the back of LeBron James? Will Larry Hughes finally earn his money's worth (because I would totally sign a max-deal with Grimace if he could win me the Finals even once despite dozing off the first 94 games of the season)? Call the cops, the Cleveland Cavaliers are missing.

Mentor against Pupil. This plot was heavily given emphasis on during the Warriors-Mavericks because of the Don Nelson and Avery Johnson coaching match-up, but we get to see a similar battle-of-minds in the NBA Finals. Mike Brown was an assistant coach for Gregg Popovich a few years ago and then a short-stint with Rick Carlisle before accepting the great honor of honing and coaching LeBron James; so he packed his bags and journeyed towards Ohio, carrying everything he has learned from coaching under Gregg Popovich. It has only been 2 years, and Mike Brown is now taking the Cavaliers and climbing that mountain with only one single obstacle left towards the peak. Another lump of gold that the San Antonio Spurs dropped but was picked-up appreciatively by the Cleveland Cavaliers was Danny Ferry, who now serves as the General Manager of the Cavs. It was said that Don Nelson's all-amounting-knowledge of Avery Johnson's tactics and the Dallas Mavericks paved the way to the second round for the Warriors. In this series, we get to find out if Mike Brown has that same all-amounting-knowledge of the Big 'G' (Popovich) and his San Antonio Spurs that will turn the tides of battle in the advantage of the Cleveland Cavaliers. On the flip-side, we will find out if Gregg Popovich is the one who has the advantage over Mike Brown and his coaching tactics. Will Gregg Popovich coach the San Antonio Spurs to victory? Will Mike Brown coach the Cleveland Cavaliers to defeat? Call out the Iceman, we have got some brain-freeze in our hands.

Emanuel David Ginobili. If I ask the morning crowd gathering in the early train-stop if they knew the full name of Manu, I guarantee that only 1 out of 20 people or less will be able to answer correctly. It's because he's been regarded to as simply Manu for all his years of stay with the NBA and the San Antonio Spurs. Another is that getting to know a European name isn't as interesting as watching him perform with the basketball, so people just take the latter option. So what's up with Manu in this series? Possibly everything. Possibly redemption for the 2005 NBA Finals snub. When the Spurs won their third title in seven years in 2005, a couple of question marks were raised once the celebration was over. Why didn't Manu win the Finals MVP? Sure, all that mattered was Larry O'Brien; but one can't help the fact but ponder as to why Manu Ginobili was snubbed and not acknowledged for his tremendous play in the Finals. Tim Duncan is always important and is always the best player on the team, but for that one series in their lives, Manu Ginobili dominated the games and snatched the trophy away from Detroit and into the hands of San Antonio. So why was he snubbed? He has had his share of downs this season for playing surprisingly inconsistent throughout some long stretches, but exploded right back with jaw-dropping performances anyway. This series, is the time for redemption. Will Manu Ginobili display the same intensity and level of play he had shown in the 2005 NBA Finals along with some of this season's outbursts? When the balloons and the confetti fall for the San Antonio Spurs, will Manu Ginobili be holding the Finals MVP Trophy in his hands? Ignite the ring of flames, Manu Ginobili is about to explode.

The French Army. I'm talking about Tony Parker. I don't know if anyone else has noticed but Tony Parker has just been the most consistent player for the San Antonio Spurs this playoffs. Day in and day out; night in and night out. Not a single game concluded where Tony Parker did not have one of the biggest numbers in the team. Not a single game concluded without seeing Tony Parker throwing bounce passes around or killing someone with his lightning quick crossover. Not only that, he is not afraid of contact. He is one point guard that thrives from taking care of things within the arc. He averages way below one 3-point attempt this year, but is deadly nonetheless with his jump shot and drawing fouls like mad. Anyway, what I want everyone to keep an eye out for is Eva Longoria. From what I remember, the last time she was in the away team's arena, she was booed like hell when her face was projected in the scoreboard; that was in Utah just for reference's sake. Will she receive the same treatment in Cleveland? Or will the people from Ohio show some love, just like the fuggly Cavalier Moon Dog? Roll out the red carpets, Tony Parker and Eva Longoria have just arrived.

What's yours is mine. But I never mentioned that what's mine is yours. This is something quite foolish, but I just couldn't let it go. The NBA Finals will be the long-awaited duel between Drew Gooden and Manu Ginobili. Tales tell of the ultimate basketball player that was casted upon by a curse which in turn separated his body into two entities. The two entities garnered a part of the original skills of the player, but not equally. One became a bump-and-grind forward, while the other was an explosive guard. One is consistent only 70% of the time he steps in the court, while the other is only consistent 30% of the time. One is offensively challenged but rips boards and bumps bodies, while the other thrives on offense and seemingly free-falls to the ground with little or no contact. These two entities are none other than Drew Gooden and Manu Ginobili. Combine the two perfect complements together and the ultimate basketball player arises. The proof of their junction? I'm sure everybody notices the bald spot of Manu Ginobili at the back of his head. Add to that the clump of hair at the back of Drew Gooden's shiny bald head. It's Manu Ginobili's lost hair! Kidding aside, look for Drew Gooden to at least take out the Spurs front line in a game or two; along with Manu Ginobili looking to dominate against the Cavs guards. Will evil overpower good? Will good overpower evil? Will Manu Ginobili make Drew Gooden pay for stealing his hair? Roll the cameras, I'm predicting one jaw-dropping highlight where Manu Ginobili will make Drew Gooden eat his own face.

In the end, it spells victory. So who's going to win it all? It's really lopsided, the same thing I said regarding Detroit over Cleveland before the Cavs kicked their shins. One thing the Cavaliers will be able to thrive on is if they play great defense on the Spurs and Tim Duncan and company will in turn have awful performances on offense as well. Bruce Bowen is a great perimeter defender, but has always had trouble against the lethal combination of quick and strong. I think Kobe Bryant has already schooled Bruce Bowen enough in the past, and it's LeBron's turn this year. What I'm saying is Bruce Bowen won't be able to contain LeBron James. The King will be too quick and too strong to be played 1-on-1, especially by Bowen. The Spurs will have to rotate and clamp down on LeBron James once he gets in the paint. On the flip side, if the Spurs' guard-combo of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili produce their usual guns on offense, it is going to be very hard for the Cavs to keep up with the score, considering they are offensively challenged. All in all, the Spurs are too deep for the Cavaliers, but the Cavaliers have the best player in the series. I'm expecting the Spurs to win it, but that's what I predicted about Detroit last series when the Cleveland Cavaliers rocked their house.

The best finals, or the worst finals? They decide. The world will be watching. Pop those corns, ice those teas, and bubble those gums. We are in for yet ANOTHER slobber-knocker.

1 comment:

Shamrock said...

Let's just hope that no more dirty-tactics-resulting-in-player-suspensions happen during the Finals. Or if ever that happens, i would definitely love to see LBJ pulverizing the skull of Bruce Bowen.