• See Box 4 below for Dr. Jack's Cavs remedy.
Hidden truths of Game 1
SAN ANTONIO -- Welcome back, Salmi.
If you were with the Daily Dime during last season's NBA Finals, you saw some great tape breakdowns by ABC-TV basketball scout Bob Salmi. He's the "coach in the truck" during ABC broadcasts of the NBA Finals.
Bob's tape breakdowns and telestrations put the spotlight on different hidden parts of the game and show the television audience where the teams are succeeding and where they're falling short on the court.
Bob has agreed to share a few of his Cavs-Spurs Game 1 tape breakdowns and insights with the Daily Dime.
See Box 5 for video from Game 1, analyzed by Bob Salmi.
The on-ball defenders do an adequate job of slowing Tony Parker, but the weak side help is late in arriving and doesn't challenge Duncan's shot at the basket.
In both examples, Drew Gooden is caught napping and the Spurs get an easy bucket. Cleveland must improve in this area going forward.
And we were treated to Duncan's full repertoire of offensive moves in Game 1.
In the second batch of clips, watch Duncan pass out of the double team, size up single coverage and score easily, work the two-man screen-and-roll play for an easy bucket, nullify the fronting post defense and display a little misdirection for an elbow jumper.
What a luxury the Spurs have with a versatile and fundamentally sound player like Tim Duncan in the post.
In the third sequence, Salmi shows us how Parker is able to score by creating space with body parts and body angles.
Parker uses his shoulders, back, arms, legs and feet to find enough open air to get off his shots.
His body control and vision make it possible for him to make such a high percentage of those acrobatic shots.
The final series of clips illustrates the many different ways Bowen's teammates helped him keep LeBron James in check during Game 1.
Let's count the ways:
(1) Duncan helps Bowen on a LeBron post-up.
(2) The Spurs circle LeBron after he knocks Bowen off the ball on a dribble drive.
(3) The Spurs gang up on LeBron and push him farther and farther away from the basket.
(4) In transition, all five Spurs defenders have at least one eye on LeBron, rushing to help Bowen when he needs it.
Sure, Bowen deserves a lot of props for his individual defense, but he's not doing it by himself.
Chris Ramsay is the senior coordinating NBA editor for ESPN.com.
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
LeBron James and Bruce Bowen discuss ideas for baby names.
Marc Stein blogged Saturday on the birth of Bruce Bowen's baby. Here's an excerpt:
That should explain why a sense of relief spread quickly among various members of the Spurs on Saturday, when word began to circulate that Bruce Bowen's wife, Yardley, had given birth to a baby overnight.
The pesky point man for the Spurs' LeBron coverage, in other words, won't miss any game time in these Finals.
"She might be the MVP," Spurs swingman Michael Finley said of Yardley Bowen. "She definitely took one for the team."
All the panic about hospital timing now shifts to the Cavs' side, with LeBron James and his longtime girlfriend, Savannah, expecting a new arrival any day as well.
The projected due date for Baby James is June 17, which happens to coincide with Game 5. Yet Finley insists the Spurs are "truthfully" hoping that LeBron, like his shadow Bowen, doesn't miss a dribble of this series.
Said a genuinely sympathetic Finley: "If he misses the childbirth, the media is going to kill him. If he misses the game, the media is going to kill him."
The Cavs' offense was dormant in Game 1. How many times did we see LeBron James holding the ball at the top of the key while the rest of the team stopped to watch?
Clearly the Cavs need to mix things up on the offensive end, and we have six recommendations from ESPN.com's Hall of Fame coach, Dr. Jack Ramsay:
• Advance the ball to the frontcourt as quickly as possible, especially on missed shots that LeBron rebounds. Try to create transition-scoring opportunities with penetrations and kicks to open shooters or finishing at the hoop.
• Take LeBron off the ball and attempt to get him the ball on the move in high-percentage (15-17 feet from the hoop) catch-and-shoot or catch-and-drive situations. This will prevent the Spurs from sending a second defender at him.
• Swing the ball. The Cavs need better ball movement with enough reversals to keep the Spurs from loading the defense to the strong side of the basket.
• Look to score inside with post-ups through Gooden, Varejao and Ilgauskas.
• Limit screen-and-roll offense involving LeBron. It only serves to bring a second defender at him instead of giving him a one-on-one opportunity.
• Offensive rebounding: Cavs need to capitalize on this strength much better than in Game 1.
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
In the post, nobody plays the angles better than San Antonio's Tim Duncan.
An excerpt from John Hollinger's latest blog entry:
SAN ANTONIO -- If you're looking for the stat of the game from Thursday's opener, try this one: 12 trillion.
That number comes courtesy of PA SportsTicker's Chris Bernucca, who pointed out that Cleveland's Damon Jones had a rather unusual stat line in Game 1.
Jones played 12 minutes on Thursday, but you'd have a hard time proving it. He managed to avoid registering a single notice in the box score -- no points, no shot attempts, no rebounds, no fouls, no turnovers, nothing.
Thus, his line read "12 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0" -- a 12 followed by 12 zeroes, as in "12 trillion."
(Note for the pedants out there: many of today's expanded box scores now display 15 zeroes, which would make it a "12 quadrillion.")
It wasn't the first time this postseason he's done it, believe it or not.
Jones played 1:06 in Game 3 against New Jersey without making his way into the play-by-play sheet, for a "1 trillion."
Cover your eyes, Orlando.
We've got more this close heartbreak for you.
Tim Duncan unexpectedly announced on the eve of Game 2 that his decision in 2000 to spurn free-agent riches from the Magic to stay with the Spurs "was probably a lot closer decision than people even think or even know."
"It's worked out the right way, to say the least, and I can't even go through all the factors that went into making the final decisions to come back," Duncan said.
So for those of you in the Magic Kingdom who are brave enough to keep score ...
Orlando's nine-figure contract offer to Shaquille O'Neal wasn't enough to convince Shaq to stay in 1996 ... and Duncan was apparently more serious about joining Grant Hill four summers later than the basketball world ever realized ... and Billy Donovan just set a land-speed record for backing out of the lucrative coaching agreement that had folks in Central Florida believing that their string of free-agent miseries -- Shaq, Duncan, Hill and Tracy McGrady are the most prominent four -- had finally been broken.
-- Marc Stein, in San Antonio
• In NBA Finals history, 25 of the 28 teams that have led 2-0 have gone on to win the series.
The only teams to win the NBA Finals after trailing 2-0 were the 1969 Celtics (vs. the Lakers), the 1977 Trail Blazers (vs. the 76ers) and the 2006 Heat (vs. the Mavericks).
• Cleveland has already won a best-of-7 series after losing the first two games in the 2007 playoffs (conference finals vs. Detroit).
There has never been a team in NBA history that has won two best-of-7 series after trailing 2-0 in a single postseason.
• The Cavaliers have won only once in their last 18 meetings (including the postseason) against the Spurs in San Antonio.
Cleveland had lost 16 straight in San Antonio before winning their last regular season meeting 88-81 on Nov. 3, 2006. Prior to this season, the last time the Cavaliers won in San Antonio was Dec. 18, 1988.
-- ESPN Research