SAN ANTONIO — LeBron James is now the San Antonio Spurs’ problem.
The Cavaliers star, in just his fourth season, has led Cleveland to its first-ever NBA finals. With his performance in the Eastern Conference finals, James has lifted an entire city’s hopes onto his shoulders.
And he’s bringing that load with him to Texas for Game 1 on Thursday
“They’re real excited about it. And you can tell in the way they’re talking, the type of celebration they had last night,” San Antonio’s Tim Duncan said Sunday. “They’re super-excited and they’re coming in here on a high. And we have to counter that, we can’t play into that. Those guys are going to be as confident as anything and I think the confidence is what carries you.”
James’ career playoff-high 48 points in the Game 5 double-overtime win against the Detroit Pistons were a turning point for Cleveland. The Cavs, led by James and rookie Daniel Gibson, followed that with another win Saturday night to eliminate the Pistons.
“Well he scored (48) the other night so he’s a pretty good player,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “Pick a problem, we have it, with LeBron. He’s fantastic in every way so, pick any aspect of the game, he’s a problem.”
Bruce Bowen, one of the league’s best defenders, will likely guard James the bulk of the time. James has averaged nearly 26 points a game during the playoffs.
“We’re going to count on Bruce to do a good job, try to contain him,” Spurs guard Tony Parker said. “He’s playing very well right now, a lot of confidence.
“But I don’t think we’re going to double- or triple-team him. We’re going to see how Bruce does and go from there.”