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Parker the key to series

You ever played a game of hoops when one guy is just so quick, he gets into the lane at will, makes a ton of layups and basically dominates the action? That's what happened during San Antonio's Game 1 victory Thursday night when Tony Parker utterly controlled the game's tempo almost from the opening tip to the final buzzer. Former Wiz Larry Hughes is dragging around a bad left foot and it was obvious early on when Parker drove right around him for an easy layup that he is not going to be able to stay in front of the Frenchmen. Also, one huge advantage the Cavs should have - Parker having to defend the 6-foot-5 Hughes at the other end - is negated because Larry can't do anything because of the foot. He was 1 of 5 from the field last night with two points and no assists.

One solution would be for Cleveland Coach Mike Brown to swallow hard and start rookie Daniel Gibson, who bailed the Cavs out against Detroit in the East Finals and appeared to be totally fearless last night. The kid, who is from Texas, drained his first three-pointer and wound up scoring a game-high 16 points on 7 of 9 shooting in just under 30 minutes. Now Gibson isn't going to stop Parker but he's at least quick enough to make him work and he can hurt the Spurs at the other end. Brown said after the game that he's not going to make a change but he'd better reconsider or this series is going to get uglier.

How good is Bruce Bowen? My seat was in sec 216 which is behind one of the baskets, way up in the second deck. It's exactly where I like to sit at pro and college football games because you can perfectly see how lanes up on special teams and in the running game and you can key in on what a QB is seeing while droppiong back.

This view provided me with an ideal way to concentrate on the way Bowen shadowed LeBron James all night and let me tell you, the man is unreal. The way he anticipates where LeBron is going, the way he works his way through, around and over screens and the way he uses his body, quickness and arms to pressure James is textbook in every single way. Some of Bowen's tactics are super subtle. For instance, on one early possession, James caught a pass on the wing near the NBA Finals logo and as he received the ball, Bowen jabbed to his right while using his right hand to push James on the shoulder which effectively forced James closer to the baseline where Bowen wanted him to be. James tried to drive but Bowen slid over perfectly to cut off the baseline and when James spun back to the middle, Tim Duncan came over and swatted the ball right back in his face. Perfect defense.

I know it's never good to place too much emphasis on one game in a seven game series but it's really hard to see how Cleveland can change the tone. Unless he starts settling for long jump shots, Parker is going to be an impossible matchup, Bowen will continue to be in LeBron's kitchen and San Antonio's help defense is a beautiful thing to watch and Tim Duncan is Tim Duncan. We could be looking at a sweep.

By Ivan Carter  |  June 8, 2007; 11:50 AM ET
 
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