Meh... not too as bad as it could've been. To be honest, I wasn't expecting much from this game. The Spurs have the experience and the homecourt advantage; I wasn't expecting the Cavs to come in and 'shock the world'. The fact that the final score was only 9 points was kinda encouraging (especially when the deficit ballooned to 18 early in the fourth).
The third quarter demons returned. The Cavs were down 5 at half and 15 at the quarter break- not good. I'm not sure if I put the quarter on the Cavaliers' shoulders or on the Spurs (though it was probably a combination). Cleveland wasn't completely awful, but they just gave the Spurs too many opportunities.
The rebounding was the most disheartening aspect. I (somewhat) expect the Cavs to shoot poorly (42%) and I expected Tony Parker to have a big game (27 points, 7 assists) but I didn't expect the Cavs to give up that many offensive rebounds (13) or get out rebounded by that much (43-32). There were a couple brutal second half possessions where the Spurs got three shots at the hoop (hint- everyone needs to box out, not just the big men). The offense is somewhat understandable, getting beat by good player is understandable. But getting outrebounded? Not a good sign for things to come.
First game jitters. Sasha Pavlovic was pressing early and Z was pressing all game. Pavlovic eventually found a rhythm (13 points on 6-12 shooting) but Ilgauskas never got into it (1-8 from the field). This wasn't exactly surprising, but they really need Z to bounce back with a strong game (he really needs to make the Spurs pay for doubling LeBron so much).
The Spurs trapped LeBron and made him give the ball up. Part of me wishes James would've been more aggressive but he wasn't getting the calls (I'm not sure how Oberto didn't get called in the first half....) and the Spurs left the rest of the Cavaliers wiiiiide open. James finished with just 14 points on 4-14 shooting (6 of those 14 came on late 3s...) and got to the line twice (he made all four freebies). It's imperative that LeBron gets the Spurs in trouble, he can't allow himself to settle for fade-away jumpers. He needs to force the issue more; their entire defense is locked on him and he needs to exploit that further.
It would help if Mike Brown had an offensive game plan. Seriously, do something. Have LeBron set screens, put LeBron in the post or move him off of screens. Just setting up and running a pick isn't going to cut it.
Tony Parker is going to be trouble. You remember the season? How the Cavs couldn't stop quick point guards? How Tyron Lue and the entire Knicks team killed the Cavaliers? Ya, that's not going to end well. Parker is too fast for Hughes, Pavlovic and Snow (even though Mark Jackson really wanted the Cavs to put Snow on Parker. That would not have ended well) and he's stronger than Gibson. I think Gibson is the best matchup, but there really is no good answer here (James checked Parker for a time as well. He gave Tony the jumper. And he hit it).
I'm not a fan of Larry Hughes. He took some bad shots, he made some poor decisions and he's not healthy. Play Daniel Gibson! The kid can ball. Gibson led all Cavaliers with 16 points and he also pitched in 4 steals and 4 assists (which was 4 more assists than the starting backcourt had, combined). Boobie was 7-9 from the floor in 28 minutes; I think it's time he gets more 30+... seriously, play the kid. However, on the flip side, every time Hughes does make a basket, it feels like gravy. Cause honestly, at this point I expect nothing from the guy; when he scores, it feels like a free possession (you mean that pull up 20 footer off the fast break went in? Alriiiiight).
Tim Duncan is good at basketball. 24 points (10-17 shooting), 13 rebounds and 5 blocks. Ugh. He might be an issue in this series. His defense is astounding and the Cavs just try to force him into jumpers at the offensive end. Duncan was also 4-5 from the line; I'd foul him more often (say, with Scot Pollard) and A) make him earn his points and B) hope he misses his freebies and gets himself into a funk at the line. He got a couple of baskets off of Parker drives and/or second chance points.
I'm not too concerned... yet... Like I said earlier, I wasn't expecting a whole lot in Game 1 and this game certainly could've been worse. The Cavs' inexperience showed (nerves) and LeBron didn't have a particularly good game. Even though the lead ballooned, the Cavs never quit; they got within 8 (with a chance for 5) and ended up losing just by 9. Game 2 is the key game- you don't want to go down 0-2 and because you'd then HAVE to sweep your home games. The Cavs showed some life (albeit late) and hopefully they'll play a more controlled game in Game 2. Oh, and if the Cavs want to win in San Antonio... LeBron has to give them more than just 14 points.