The Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs have both rolled through the playoffs so far. The Cavs have a 12-4 record this post season and the Spurs are also 12-4. This series will pit the games best player, LeBron James against a dynasty that has won multiple championships. Here is a closer look at the matchups in this series:
POINT GUARD: Tony Parker is an amazing player as he’s just so darn fast that he causes matchup problems. His signature shot is a mid range jumper which is very hard to defend. He’s not your typical point guard as he likes to shoot first rather than pass the ball. Still, Parker has averaged 19.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game this postseason. He also has shot well as he’s hit 45.7% of his shots from the floor and 71.3% from the free throw line. Larry Hughes has been banged up with a bad foot but he will try to give it a go. Hughes is also a shoot first type of point guard. He has averaged 12.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.5 steals per game in the playoffs so far. His shooting has been a little off as he’s only hit 36% from the floor, 36.5% from 3-point range and 74.6% from the free throw line. EDGE: SPURS
SHOOTING GUARD: The Cavaliers inserted Sasha Pavlovic into their starting lineup and they started winning more often. He might not be the best player around but he’s a tough guy that plays hard all the time. He hasn’t shot well so far in the playoffs as he’s only hit 38.6% from the floor and 56.7% from the free throw line. He has averaged 9.0 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.1 steals per game so far in the playoffs. Michael Finley is an old warrior that knows all of the tricks. He has been shooting well in the post season and that’s a big reason why the Spurs are where they are right now. He has hit 43.2% from the floor, 46.2% from the 3-point line and 91.7% from the free throw line. He has averaged 13.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game in the playoffs. EDGE: SLIGHT FOR THE SPURS
SMALL FORWARD: This will be the most interesting matchup on the court to watch. LeBron James vs. Bruce Bowen. Offense vs. Defense. LeBron James is the new face of the NBA as he is one of their brightest stars. If he can will his team to beat the Spurs he will be on track to be considered the best player in NBA history. LeBron James is averaging 25.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 8.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game in the playoffs so far. He has shot 43.4% from the floor, 30.9% from 3-point range and 76.6% from the free throw line. Bruce Bowen is the best defensive player in the league as many opponents say he is a dirty player. He will have his hands full defending LeBron James who’s way more athletic than Bowen is. He will have to dig deep into his bag of tricks to deal with James. He has averaged 6.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.6 steals per game so far in the playoffs. He has shot well from three point range as he’s hit 46.4% of his attempts in the playoffs. EDGE: GIGANTIC FOR THE CAVALIERS
POWER FORWARD: Tim Duncan is one of the best basketball players in the history of the NBA and he’s been awesome in the playoffs so far this season. He will cause the Cavs some problems but the Cavs will also cause him problems as Drew Gooden, Anderson Varejao and Zydrunas Ilgauskas will try to take away his inside game. That is easier said than done. Duncan has averaged 23.2 points, 11.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 3.3 blocks per game. Duncan has made 53.9% of his shots from the floor but he’s had problems at the free throw line as he’s only made 64.8% of them. Drew Gooden is an underrated player for the Cavs that always hustles on the court. He has a nice shot from 15 feet in and he’s a good rebounder. He has averaged 11.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game so far in the playoffs. He also has shot a solid 49% from the floor and 74.2% from the free throw line. EDGE: SPURS
CENTER: Zydrunas Ilgauskas is the most underrated player on the Cleveland Cavaliers. The 7?3? center should have no problem getting his points and rebounds in this series. Big Z has a nice jump shot that has extended out to 18 feet now and that causes opposing teams all kinds of problems. But it’s his work inside that separates him from other centers. He has averaged 13.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 0.9 assists per game so far in the post season. He has hit 52.5% of his shots from the floor and 83.9% of his free throws in the playoffs. Fabricio Oberto started out the playoffs coming off of the bench but he played so well that he bumped Francisco Elson to the bench. Oberto has shot an amazing 66.7% from the floor but only 61.1% from the free throw line so far in the playoffs. He has averaged 5.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game. EDGE: CAVS
BENCH: The Spurs have a veteran bench and they could have a huge say as to who wins this series. Manu Ginobili is one of the best 6th men in the NBA. He brings a little bit of everything to the table as he’s a good offensive player and a notorious flopper on defense. He has averaged 16.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.75 steals per game so far in this post season. He hasn’t shot well from the floor (40.9%) but he’s been solid from three point range (36.8%) and the free throw line (83.7%). Robert Horry is one of the NBA’s best clutch shooters of all time as the playoffs is when he usually takes his game to a new level. He has only averaged 4.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.4 blocks per game during the playoffs. But he still has shot decent as he’s hit 43.1% from the floor, 34.5% from three point range and 84.6% from the free throw line. Francisco Elson will get some minutes at center. When the playoffs started Elson was the starting center but Fabricio Oberto beat him out for the job. He’s a strong rebounder and defender as he’s averaged 3.1 points and 3.3 rebounds in limited minutes. Brent Barry is also a three point bomber but that’s really the only skill he has left as he’s only averaged 3.1 points, 1.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game in the playoffs. Jacque Vaughn will likely give Tony Parker a couple of minutes off per game. He averaged 2.2 points, 0.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. Matt Bonner (0.8 avg) and Beno Udrih (0.3 avg) likely won’t see the floor unless the Spurs suffer some injuries.
The Cavaliers have not been playing their bench as much as the Spurs have, but they have a couple of good, young impact players on their bench. Point guard Daniel Gibson was the Cavs silent assassin against the Pistons and he will have an impact in this series. When he’s on the court the Spurs must know where he’s at or they will pay. He has averaged 7.6 points, 1.6 rebounds and 0.7 assists. He also is shooting well as he’s hit 42.7% from the floor, 44.7% from three point range and 88.1% from the free throw line. Anderson Varejao will have the important role of hassling Tim Duncan when he’s on the floor. He is a notorious flopper so the Spurs better be careful when they drive to the basket. Varejao brings a bundle of energy to the court as he dives for loose balls and loves to rebound. He has averaged 5.6 points, 6.1 rebounds, 0.5 assists and 1.0 steals per game. He has made 48% of his shots from the floor but only 53.1% from the free throw line. Donyell Marshall has had a rough time in the post season as he’s only averaging 3.5 points and 2.1 rebounds per game so far in the playoffs. Eric Snow hasn’t got much playing time in the playoffs and he’s only averaging 1.8 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game. Damon Jones has only played in 7 games this post season and he has only averaged 1.1 points, 0.6 rebounds and 1.0 assist per game. EDGE: SPURS
PREDICTION: The Spurs are battle tested and have home court advantage…..but the Cavaliers have the best player on the planet. I think the Spurs will win this series in 7 games, but, I wouldn’t be surprised in the Cavs won it all.