Cavs not content with just the East title
The euphoria inside Quicken Loans Arena was gone Monday afternoon.
Two days after their Eastern Conference finals win over Detroit, the Cavaliers were all business again. A bigger prize and a more formidable foe awaits.
The Cavs began preparing for the NBA Finals that start Thursday in San Antonio. Less than 48 hours earlier, they celebrated a first-ever conference title on their home court. But they want a whole lot more.
“When you get to the second season, it’s not to get to the conference semifinals, and it’s not to get to the conference finals,” Head Coach Mike Brown said. “We’re in it to win it. We’re in it to win a championship. That’s our goal, and everybody understands it.”
Cleveland certainly will not be carrying a favorite’s tag into their showdown with the Spurs.
The Cavs have never made it this far. Reserve guard Eric Snow is the only Cavalier with experience playing in the finals.
The Spurs have been here before. They are 3-0 in the finals with their last championship coming just two years ago.
The Cavs likely will not hear many people outside Northeast Ohio giving them much of a chance to beat the Spurs. That does not bother them.
“In my opinion, the only people who have to have belief are the ones in that locker room,” Brown said. “And we have belief.”
The Cavs won both games against the Spurs during the regular season, including the team’s first win in San Antonio in 18 years. With the Spurs holding homecourt advantage, Cleveland will have to do it again at least once to win the title.
All-Star forward LeBron James said the Cavs can take something from their two wins against the Spurs, but they can’t dwell on it.
“That’s a great team,” James said. “They’re very experienced. They’ve been to the finals before, and they know how to handle adversity.
“We just have to attack, attack, attack. That has to be our mindset to give ourselves a chance to win.”
The Cavs have used the Spurs as a model in trying to build a championship team. During the past couple of years, they have hired people with Spurs connections who know what it takes to win a title.
Brown spent three seasons as an assistant under Head Coach Gregg Popovich and was there in 2003 when the Spurs won their second title. General Manager Danny Ferry played on the 2003 championship team and was the Spurs’ director of basketball operations the following two seasons.
Now, the Cavs see if they can reach the Spurs’ level on the court in the biggest challenge they have ever faced.
“We said every time we played San Antonio it was a measuring stick,” Cavs forward Drew Gooden said. “I think this is probably the biggest measuring stick of them all in the NBA Finals.”
Reach Canton Repository sports writer Mike Popovich at (330) 580-8341 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org