The Cleveland Cavaliers have come a long way since the team that they were a couple of months ago. Fans may remember a game from early March this past regular season where the Cavs were facing the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizz, shorthanded due to injuries to key players, were not expected to do anything in the game. However, Memphis won, and the result triggered some verbal blowback from star Lebron James.
Speaking in March of this year: “I can sit up here and say that we’re a team that’s ready to start the playoffs tomorrow, but we’re not. We’re still learning. We still have things that happen on the court that just, that shouldn’t happen.”
Following the March loss, the Cavaliers posted some other questionable results. However, they still managed to have the best regular season in the Eastern Conference. With all the elite teams in the Western Conference this season, the one bright spot out east has had a red carpet laid out for them when it comes to their draw. They clearly look poised to take full advantage of it.
The Detroit Pistons had nothing in round one, the Atlanta Hawks had nothing in round two, and it doesn’t look like the Toronto Raptors have anything in round three. On Thursday night, Toronto fell behind 0-2 in their series against Cleveland with a 108-89 loss. The Raptors’ now hang their hats on returning home for Games 3 and 4 in hopes of merely tying the series. In truth, it looks like the Raptors are hoping against hope.
Soft draw or not, to go 10-0 to start the playoffs is an amazing accomplishment. It’s enough to make their .695 winning percentage from the regular season look like ancient history.
The Cavs have peaked at the right time, and they can even hope for home-court advantage in the NBA Finals despite playing below .700. Surely most will call for a Golden State/Cleveland rematch in that championship series, however, the OKC Thunder aren’t like Toronto in the sense that the Thunder can’t be ignored. Should OKC defend their home court, they would advance to the NBA Finals with a worse regular season record than Cleveland.
For that reason, you would think that Cleveland fans would be pulling for the Thunder. However, I do wonder how many of those Cleveland fans have revenge on their minds instead.
If someone thought that Golden State only won the title last season because of the onslaught of injuries that Cleveland suffered, I wouldn’t challenge his/her viewpoint. It’s impossible to prove, but my inclination lays there as well. Cleveland aren’t injured so far this postseason (knock on wood) and perhaps that has a lot to do with the efficient series closing. After all, it has given the Cavs plenty of rest.
If I’m sounding like I’m talking about Toronto being dead well before their time, I make no apologies. Game 5 in the Eastern Conference Finals has a big “if necessary” asterisk beside it right now. That means that Cleveland could be done with Toronto by Monday night.
A Game 7 “if necessary” asterisk doesn’t loom so large in the Western Conference finals, a game that would be played on May 30th. Whether you want the Cavs to face Golden State or OKC, partisan Cavalier fans have to be pulling for a long series out west.