Mar 4, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (2) defends San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker (9) as power forward Tim Duncan (21) looks to pass in the second quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Having solved the puzzle that was the first LeBron Big Three. Should the San Antonio Spurs fear version 2.0 taking shape in Cleveland?
Tony Parker and Patty Mills draw Kyrie Irving
To understand the challenge is to identify the primary matchups. San Antonio won’t have the luxury of back court dominance like they did in the Finals against Miami. Kyrie Irving is emerging as one of the best point guards in the NBA. It will fall to team leader Tony Parker and his newly re-signed backup Patty Mills to find whatever advantage they can to make Irving less effective. Obviously that means playing good defense since Irving is such an offensive threat, but more so it means score baskets. For all his skill, the Cleveland All-Star is questionable defensively, a weakness Gregg Popovich will direct Parker and Mills to exploit.
Tim Duncan and Boris Diaw trump Kevin Love on experience
Of course the latest member of the new Big Three in Cleveland will be All-Star power forward Kevin Love. The 25-year old finished last season averaging 26 points and 12 rebounds per game. That means he is a load to handle in the paint. However, just like Irving he has cracks in his defense, and also like Irving he has zero playoff experience. Those are two problems foreign the ageless Tim Duncan and Boris Diaw. Despite battling back the ravages of time, the two big men remain capable two-way players who can use experience, smarts and their own formidable talent to handle Love’s sheer ability.
LeBron James can’t be stopped by is controllable
Then of course there is the King himself. LeBron James remains who he is, which is the best individual player in the game of basketball. At age 30 he isn’t going to decline anytime soon. He’ll score his points and make his plays regardless of what the San Antonio Spurs do. The key for them is to gear their game plans around making it as difficult as possible. The more LeBron has to work, the less effective he becomes. It won’t always go as planned, but as the past two Finals proved, there is a system to beating great trios.