I don;t know about you, but I am more of a pro sports fan for a reason. Whether it be the NFL or NBA, I prefer the pros to college for one main reason - I can't stand rankings. Now, in college basketball they have it figured out. Have all the polls you want, but in the end 64 teams are going to figure out who the National Champions are. College Football? New need to go there.
To copy the ranking system in place at the collegiate level, news outlets, blogs, everyone, like to put together power rankings. While fun to check in on every now and then, and talk about, they mean little - except when your team is #1.
Anytime 'objective' observers think your team is just as great as you do it is worth mentioning. That has happened twice this week - from two notorious Cavs-Haters to boot.
The first is ESPN's Marc Stein. Stein is not a big fan of the Cavaliers and makes it obvious. Sure, it is my opinion, but most things he has to say about the Cavs, or LeBron, is usually negative. After 4 straight wins against quality opponents, however, even Stein couldn't keep the Cavaliers down -
#1 - Cavaliers -- Sometimes we get it wrong and this is one of those times. Ever since we saw the Cavs lose to the Dirk-less Mavs in person and suggested they wouldn't go higher than No. 4 in the near future, they've been ruthless.
A little crow never hurts, and it is hard to argue with Stein's thoughts after that Dallas game.
Another Power Ranking I check out is John Hollinger's. At least his is based entirely on statistics. The Cavaliers are #2 in these rankings, that change after every win or loss. The #1 team? The Atlanta Hawks, whom the Cavaliers face in the rare, home-and-home, back-to-back starting tonight in Atlanta. Fun times!
Even our own SBNation.com has a Power Ranking for the NBA. Like Stein's, SBN's rankings are done by one brave man. In this case, it is Mike Prada - who happens to be a huge Washington Wizards fan and runs Bullets Forever, SBN's Wizards blog. For that reason, we know Prada is far from a Cavaliers' fan.
No matter, even a Wizards fan can't ignore the domination that is the Cleveland Cavaliers right now -
You have no idea how much it pains me to say this, but the Cavaliers are officially scary. They had a rough start while they worked out all the kinks, but what they did this week was nothing short of extraordinary. They're starting to jell, starting to have some actual offensive cohesion and starting to show why they won 66 games last year. I'd venture to say that no team has had a better last eight days (I'm cheating and including Monday's win over Phoenix in there) than the Cavs all season. They routed Houston, routed the Lakers and held off the upstart Kings in a hostile environment. Very, very impressive.
You know what's truly wild? Cleveland won those games in a different way. Against Phoenix, they trotted out a small lineup featuring LeBron James at power forward and ran the Suns off the court in the fourth quarter. Against the Lakers, they rolled out their huge lineup, with Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Shaquille O'Neal in at the same time, and totally neutralized the Lakers' inside game. You're finally starting to see the vision Danny Ferry had when made his offseason moves. Right now, this is a team with a roster that can beat you small (thanks to the Anthony Parker andJamario Moon signings) or beat you big (thanks to the Shaq trade). They have a lineup for every situation, making them nearly impossible to match up with.
I really hope it all doesn't work, but I'm scared that it might. This week was frightening if you're a fan of any of the other top teams in the league. The Cavs are jelling and they mean business.
Excellent points, Mike, and kudos to you for not allowing your dislike for the Cavaliers to cloud your judgment.