Spurs waiting, resting for finals
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SAN ANTONIO — The Detroit Pistons and Cleveland Cavaliers yesterday were trying to recover the day after their double-overtime thriller, while also preparing for today's Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Meanwhile, 1,500 miles away, the San Antonio Spurs were taking a second straight day of rest as they waited for their NBA finals opponent.
"We're just watching the games in a business-sense to see what we would do against each team," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said yesterday.
The Cavaliers-Pistons Game 5 matchup certainly gave the Spurs something to watch. LeBron James scored a playoff career-high 48 points to lead Cleveland to a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference finals with a 109-107 double-overtime win.
"We wish we knew who we were playing," Popovich said. "But at this point it's important for us to pay attention to both teams and not care who you play."
The Cavs have a chance to close out the series today at home. If they don't, Game 7 will be Monday in Detroit.
"It was a great game," Popovich said. "A very competitive game and pretty amazing to watch LeBron do what he did."
Popovich was returning the compliment to James, who on Thursday after Cleveland's win held up the only two other teams left in the playoffs as the gold standard.
"When you look at San Antonio and you look at Detroit, that's what you want to be at a certain point in your career. They've done it year after year after year after year after year after year," James said.
The Spurs became the Western Conference champions on Wednesday by beating the Utah Jazz in Game 5. The week of rest they are getting before the finals open in San Antonio on Thursday could do them good.
Whenever 36-year-old Robert Horry, a 15-year veteran with six championship rings, is asked about the value of days off, he often points out jokingly, as if no one else ever notes it, that the Spurs are the "oldest team in the league. I like to throw that out there now and then."
Starter Bruce Bowen turns 36 on June 14 and Michael Finley, who started 16 games during the regular season and all 16 of the Spurs' playoff games, is 34. It's the 12-year veteran's first trip to the finals.
"It's great to see guys in the finals that haven't been there before," Popovich said. "Obviously we've got a few of those guys but Fin is the one who's been working longest at it so it's a real thrill to have him there. To try to complete it and get the ring for him would be a great thrill for all of us."
The Spurs, who are going for their fourth championship in nine seasons after winning it all in 1999, 2003 and 2005, were expected to start up practice again over the weekend.
Popovich said that to be able to keep up the pace when the finals start, some of those practices will have to be tough.
"A couple of times during this layoff we'll have to do it," Popovich said. "And cross our fingers that nobody gets hurt. But we've got to stay in shape and part of that is the knocking and the hitting and getting in the flow and keeping the rhythm."
DETROIT WILL HAVE MCDYESS IN GAME 6
Detroit Pistons forward Antonio McDyess will not be further penalized by the NBA for his rough foul in the first quarter on Cavaliers forward Anderson Varejao in Game 5 on Thursday night.
McDyess received a flagrant-2 foul after he unexpectedly clotheslined Varejao under the basket and was ejected. Yesterday, league spokesman Tim Frank said McDyess will not face any more discipline.
That's good news for the Pistons, who trail 3-2 in the Eastern Conference finals going into tonight's Game 6 at Quicken Loans Arena. One of Detroit's top reserves, McDyess played just four minutes in the Pistons' 109-107 double-overtime loss.
McDyess' hard foul on Varejao drew a passionate response from Cleveland's LeBron James, who jumped over his fallen teammate and tried to confront McDyess as the referees and other players tried to keep order.
James was given a technical foul for charging after McDyess.
McDyess' ejection forced Pistons coach Flip Saunders to alter his rotations and he had to play Jason Maxiell and Dale Davis more than usual. James was able to exploit Maxiell, twice driving around the second-year forward for dunks down the stretch on his way to a career playoff-high 48 points.
LEBRON GIVEN INTRAVENOUS FLUIDS
Concerned about dehydration, Cleveland Cavaliers team doctors gave forward LeBron James fluids intravenously in the locker room to help him recover from the 51-minute pounding in the double-overtime Eastern Conference finals victory over the Detroit Pistons on Thursday.
"It was just a precautionary measure, our doctors and trainers thought just so he wouldn't cramp up on the plane," Cavs coach Mike Brown said.