Tonight this liveblogging thing is going to the next level, as Dr. Jack Ramsay, sitting to my right at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, and David Thorpe, watching on TV in Florida, will both be chiming in in real time.
Henry Abbott: (8:46 PM ET ) OK, this liveblogging thing will really get going at tip-off, but a little tidbit to get you started: sitting courtside and about to watch his first-ever NBA Finals game is none other than Greg Oden. Those hands are big, and soft. As we shook hands, mine, for a moment, was gone entirely. Everyone always loves every rookie (so humble! so grounded! so unspoiled!) but suffice it to say that I found Oden, in our five-minute conversation, to have a great, relaxed, genuine character. I asked him who he's rooting for, and he said "both teams" which, seeing as he's in a ravenous Cleveland arena, could be code for San Antonio. Or he's just a fan of good basketball.
Henry Abbott: (8:57 PM ET ) I can tell you with certainty that it is extremely loud in here. Louder than San Antonio, I am told. Loud enough that I'm going to save all my thinking until after the player introductions. If noise can save Cleveland, Cleveland is saved.
Dr. Jack: (8:58 PM ET ) Larry Hughes being sidelined is an immediate plus for the Cavs. Gibson is a good defender on Parker (the best they have). The times that Boobie has guarded Tony ... Tony has not been able to get by him. Plus Gibson will make Parker work harder at the defensive end.
David Thorpe: (9:01 PM ET ) Hi Henry, thanks for inviting me. It is not loud in here, in my house. Kids are asleep, and my wife and I are enjoying some excellent sushi.
David Thorpe: (9:03 PM ET ) Why did they play "Darth Vaders theme" for the Spurs intro? That would fire me up. Better something from the Carpenters or perhaps "Tiptoe through the Tulips" from Tiny Tim.
Henry Abbott: (9:03 PM ET ) As fans entered the stadium, they were handed rally towels, t-shirts, and little flashing red lights that look really cool when they turn the lights off. Cleveland's glitterati.
Henry Abbott: (9:06 PM ET ) Did they play Darth Vader's theme? I can't hear since the flames leapt from the scoreboard and singed my ear drums.
Henry Abbott: (9:08 PM ET ) The Spurs post-up Michael Finley to open the game? That's a bit of a surprise, right?
Thorpe: (9:10 PM ET ) I wish Z would attack TD.
Henry: (9:11 PM ET ) We can't call it a Pavlobrick if he's fouled.
Thorpe: (9:11 PM ET ) Sasha did what Z should have done.
Henry: (9:14 PM ET ) There are so many Spurs in the lane on defense it's insane. Offensive rebounding for Cleveland might be all about tapping it out. And getting open looks might be about shooting from the outside. (I wrote that, and then Gooden got a clean board in traffic, and James got a clean layup. Thanks guys.)
Dr. Jack: (9:16 PM ET ) Cavs are getting more offensive rebounds. They already have four second chance points.
David: (9:16 PM ET ) They will stay into the lane until the Cavs shoot them out of it.
Henry: (9:17 PM ET ) Cavaliers seem to have finally found their non-LeBron, non-Boobie scorer.
Henry: (9:21 PM ET ) The scoring has been low. Everybody looked a little jittery in this raucous environment. The crowd came to play. If this one ends like Game 5 against Detroit, then I'm going to have permanent hearing damage.
Dr. Jack: (9:22 PM ET ) Cleveland has seven offensive rebounds. Pavlovic is getting open on high screen and rolls ... for jump shots and drives. LeBron has made some good plays for the team ... he only has one assist, but he's help set up plays.
Henry: (9:23 PM ET ) Also, I must point out that Cavaliers fans are expressing their loyalty through at least three different catchphrases. A lot of "Cavaliers" shirts. A lot of "Witness" shirts. And a lot of "Rise Up" shirts.
Dr. Jack: (9:23 PM ET ) Tony Parker still doesn't have a bucket.
Dr. Jack: (9:24 PM ET ) Great ball movement by the Spurs.
Cavs are playing great, but only ahead by one.
David: (9:25 PM ET ) The Spurs define the idea of ball movement and court spacing.
Henry: (9:25 PM ET ) If San Antonio's layups start falling, this'll get a lot tougher for Cleveland. Lots of balls rolling around and falling out.
David: (9:26 PM ET ) If Joakim Noah indeed grows up to be a better passing clone of Varejao, then the team drafting him should be very pleased.
Henry: (9:29 PM ET ) In terms of hair, he's the best candidate in years for that job.
David: (9:30 PM ET ) VJ is playing TD very tough and smartly.
Henry: (9:31 PM ET ) Robert Horry was wide open and all alone at the three-point line.
David: (9:32 PM ET ) VJ again!! On both sides!
Henry: (9:33 PM ET ) ESPN's John Hollinger is sitting to my left and points out that LeBron James never catches and shoots. Always holds the ball.
David: (9:34 PM ET ) That's because he initiates his offense from too far out. Needs to work on getting catches in tighter.
Dr. Jack: (9:37 PM ET ) Cavs have a 19-8 rebounding edge. That's big.
Henry: (9:37 PM ET ) Another thing that kind of bothers me: couldn't he catch and GO sometimes too?
David: (9:39 PM ET ) That is big. And Henry, you are right. He should be mixing up the timing of his attack drives.
Henry: (9:39 PM ET ) Any body get a good clear look at what exactly happened on that clear path foul?
David: (9:44 PM ET ) Finally LBJ at the 4. Finally posting up.
Henry: (9:45 PM ET ) Tell me more. Why is that the answer?
David: (9:47 PM ET ) May not be the answer. But he had to try it. Playing "status quo" worked vs. the Pistons, but the Spurs are too good.
David: (9:49 PM ET ) Now the Spurs defenders, if they dive down on LBJ, will have even more space to cover when relocating back to the shooters LBJ passes too.
Henry: (9:49 PM ET ) Since I declared Sasha Pavlovic to be the third scorer Cleveland needed, he has cooled notably.
David: (9:53 PM ET ) There was a quick catch and attack for LBJ.
Henry: (9:53 PM ET ) Tony Parker's first bucket halfway through the second quarter. Last game he had about 175 points by now, if memory serves.
Henry: (9:55 PM ET ) Dangerous moment for Cleveland.
David: (9:56 PM ET ) The equalizer!
Henry: (9:57 PM ET ) Tim Duncan has gone very wide eyed on that call, but I'm pretty sure he had a hand working on Z's hip during what was, to my estimation, the biggest bucket of the game so far. San Antonio had that "let's eat them alive" vibe for a second there after LeBron James picked up his third foul.
Dr. Jack: (9:57 PM ET ) Cavs are playing a very sound team game. LeBron (now out with 3 fouls) has been aggressive ... making good plays with the ball when the Spurs would double him. Again, offensive rebounds are really helping the Cavs.
David: (9:58 PM ET ) Parker will be more "points-centric" now with TD out. Who for the Cavs steps up? Z?
Dr. Jack: (9:59 PM ET ) Tony Parker has finally gotten a little bit of his game going. I don't think he's being aggressive enough.
Henry: (9:59 PM ET ) It's like penalty killing in hockey. Need to hold that lead until halftime.
Dr. Jack: (10:00 PM ET ) Spurs have gone small.
Henry: (10:01 PM ET ) The mood in the building just became a tad nervous.
Dr. Jack: (10:01 PM ET ) Horry for Bowen ... the Cavs didn't take advantage of the Finley-Gooden mismatch last time down. Now the Cavs are in a zone.
Henry: (10:07 PM ET ) Lots of good ball movement on both ends of the floor over the last few minutes. Fun to watch.
Henry: (10:13 PM ET ) Very big make by Tony Parker. Now the Cavaliers have had a great half, and still came up short. A lot of thinking to be done at halftime. All the same, I think Cleveland will take this half.
Dr. Jack: (10:15 PM ET ) As well as the Cavs played, they're down by two at the half. Parker has come alive ... getting into the paint again. And the Spurs have narrowed the rebound gap (26-20). Boobie is just 1-6. The Cavs had an opportunity to open a significant lead, but didn't take advantage. Earlier I noted that the Cavs had six second chance points. They still have six and the Spurs now have 11.
Dr. Jack: (10:27 PM ET ) LeBron has 16 TOs in 2 and a half games.
Dr. Jack: (10:29 PM ET ) Manu hasn't scored, but he has four assists.
David: (10:34 PM ET ) Like the Pistons series; Cavs must make shots or be doomed.
David: (10:34 PM ET ) It's not boards, or turnovers. Make shots.
Henry: (10:34 PM ET ) Interesting note: in his pre-game media talk, Mike Brown talked openly about activating Shannon Brown. The reason he won't is that "all he has to do is breathe on Tony Parker and it's a foul."
David: (10:38 PM ET ) If TP goes for 25+, Brown will wish he had tried Brown.
David: (10:39 PM ET ) Cavs are getting great looks, but too many j's.
David: (10:39 PM ET ) LeBron inside?
David: (10:41 PM ET ) Cavs now below 40%fg.
David: (10:42 PM ET ) Wade makes a living where James is hesitant to shoot from.
Henry: (10:42 PM ET ) I wish, sometimes, that Sasha Pavlovic would go just a little slower. Sometimes he's 100% determination and 0% moderation.
Henry: (10:43 PM ET ) What, if anything, should these teams be doing to get that fourth foul on the other's stars?
David: (10:44 PM ET ) Changing speeds is integral, unless your name is Barbosa. Or Drexler.
David: (10:45 PM ET ) The Cavs are being far too nice.
David: (10:46 PM ET ) Attack them-risk the blocked shot for that foul.
Henry: (10:48 PM ET ) When the Cavs are tied or ahead, the crowd is three times louder.
Dr. Jack: (10:49 PM ET ) Spurs usually get something good out of a timeout. Maybe a lob for Manu.
Dr. Jack: (10:51 PM ET ) Yes-and the Cavs should be looking for it.
David: (10:52 PM ET ) Sorry Dr.-that was me.
Henry: (10:53 PM ET ) Z's legs don't move very fast. But he covers a lot of ground.
David: (10:53 PM ET ) The Cavs are finishing such a low number of their baseline drives. It's fools gold. Need to attack middle and counter baseline.
Henry: (10:54 PM ET ) There's a LeBron catch-and-shoot.
David: (10:54 PM ET ) Oberto is showing so hard on James-I'd like to see him attack Oberto.
Henry: (10:55 PM ET ) I'm thinking Drew Gooden's foul was a makeup call for Manu Ginobili's.
David: (10:55 PM ET ) Cavs outscored by 12 from 3.
David: (10:55 PM ET ) Make that 15.
David: (10:57 PM ET ) Sasha can be a special defender in this league.
Henry: (10:58 PM ET ) I love that guy. He's intense. But 3/12 right now. That's a lot of Pavlobricks.
Henry: (11:01 PM ET ) This feels like dangerous moment #2 for Cleveland. Last time, Ilgauskas got a three-point play. But letting Duncan get rest while his teammates build a five-point lead, that's a little disheartening.
David: (11:04 PM ET ) Cavs down to 36.7% fg. 1-12 from 3. The shots are there.
Henry: (11:04 PM ET ) Hollinger points out: Bruce Bowen and LeBron James both have 13 points. Bowen got there with fewer shots, too.
David: (11:05 PM ET ) Another disastrous third qtr.
Henry: (11:07 PM ET ) Steal, rebound, three-pointer for Brent Barry in consecutive trips down the court.
Henry: (11:10 PM ET ) Cleveland's third-quarter three-point shooting percentage: 8.
8%. That's 1/12. A few more of those drop and this place is WAY louder.
Henry: (11:11 PM ET ) Now they're 0-3 to start the fourth, too.
Henry: (11:12 PM ET ) This is the worst shooting effort I can remember seeing in some time.
Dav id: (11:12 PM ET ) Sorry, me again. But I bet Henry would agree.
Dr. Jack: (11:13 PM ET ) Finley is in for Manu (zero points), but Manu will be back to finish the game.
Henry: (11:15 PM ET ) Marv Albert would say "the crowd wanted a foul on Duncan."
Henry: (11:17 PM ET ) And the same again, as they just showed the replay of the non-call on LeBron's latest drive.
David: (11:22 PM ET ) Now or never for LBJ.
David: (11:23 PM ET ) There it is. Can you say 20+ straight points?
David: (11:24 PM ET ) What is LBJ doing?
Henry: (11:24 PM ET ) Daniel Gibson: two points on ten shots, and his stat line is pretty empty all around. He finally got to start and now, instead of being benched for Larry Hughes at the start, he's benched for Eric Snow down the stretch.
Henry: (11:26 PM ET ) The Cavaliers could really use a game where nobody has one of the worst shooting nights imaginable.
Henry: (11:30 PM ET ) They just showed a clip of Al Pacino from "Any Given Sunday." The one about fighting for that inch. It's written on the wall downstairs. Really got this crowd fired up again. If Cleveland wins, Pacino deserves a footnote.
Dr. Jack: (11:30 PM ET ) Again, Spurs will look to get something going to the basket. Look for a back pick on this possession. Possibly a lob.
Henry: (11:31 PM ET ) Dr. Jack, I think Mike Brown must be reading.
Henry: (11:33 PM ET ) Two-point game with less than two to play. LOVE this stuff. Although suddenly it's stark how low scoring this game has been. My word.
Henry: (11:34 PM ET ) Boobie rides again. He has been sitting a long time.
David: (11:34 PM ET ) Before the game I would have bet that in a grind it out-tight game, the Spurs would have the edge in the last minute. We got the tight game, let's see who makes the plays and shots.
Henry: (11:34 PM ET ) Spurs have a small lineup, with Barry in for Oberto.
Henry: (11:35 PM ET ) Nice pass, Eric Snow. Also Barry is on Gibson. Wonder if they have the nerve to let him drive on him.
Henry: (11:37 PM ET ) Whoa, love the no-huddle offense, but when it ends like that, it sure seems like a timeout would have been a good idea.
David: (11:37 PM ET ) That's why you call a timeout. To ensure LBJ gets his touch.
Henry: (11:38 PM ET ) Old basketball argument. Up three, without the ball. You foul here?
Henry: (11:39 PM ET ) The argument against is that you hate to stop the clock. The Cavs have a slow offense anyway.
Henry: (11:40 PM ET ) Ginobili is 1/2 from the line. Not shooting well from the field tonight. make that 2/3.
Henry: (11:41 PM ET ) 3/4.
David: (11:41 PM ET ) They played it right/ No help-let LBJ finish.
David: (11:41 PM ET ) Just because the Cavs have shot so poorly.
David: (11:41 PM ET ) I foul on the catch here.
Henry: (11:42 PM ET ) What's the play for Cleveland? LBJ all the way? Sasha just hit a three. Boobie has a defender he can shake. Damon Jones on the floor.
David: (11:42 PM ET ) No Donyell Marshall?
David: (11:42 PM ET ) Backscreen-crossscreen for James.
Henry: (11:43 PM ET ) Donyell Marshall has had a rough night, and doesn't even get on the floor, it appears, despite his rep as the three-point guy.
David: (11:44 PM ET ) You have to call that foul. Wow.
Henry: (11:44 PM ET ) Shoot. Game over. LeBron James looked like he wanted a foul on that. He talked to the refs a while after the miss. There was what looked like an intentional foul before the shot. Can't believe that wasn't called.
Henry: (11:45 PM ET ) The downside of this, of course, is that no one has ever come back after being down 3-0 in a playoff series.
David: (11:45 PM ET ) They could play 100 times and the Spurs would win 90+ in this style.
David: (11:45 PM ET ) Thanks Henry and Dr. Jack. Enjoyed it. Be safe.
David: (11:47 PM ET ) Thanks a lot for you time David Thorpe and Dr. Jack. See you on Thursday.