This is fun, isn't it? Even the most grizzled, bitter Cleveland fan has to smile a little bit, when no one is looking, of course. The Cavaliers, Cleveland's Cavaliers are the hottest team in basketball, perhaps all of sports, after winning their 9th straight game by 12 or more points last night, an NBA record. How fitting that the Cavs do it on the same night that two team records fall.
As the Cavs race across the quarter-pole of the season, it is safe to start projecting some things. Even playoff seedings are in play now, with the Eastern Conference quickly becoming a 2-team race. Detroit lost again last night, to Washington no less, and appear as though they may never get it together with Allen Iverson in the lineup. Now 6.5 games behind the Cavs in the Central, the Pistons are also on the verge of being run out of the divisional race as well.
At 18-3, the Cavs are on pace to win 69 games. They have what might be considered already to be an insurmountable lead in the Central Division. LeBron James is easily the MVP of the 1st Quarter of the season, more for what he is doing on the defensive end than everything he does on offense. They are running over everyone, yet questions remain. Some people just don't believe(Hello, Marc Stein!) What will it take??
For the Cavs, it's easy. There are 8 games that will truly tell the tale of the regular season. 3 against the Celtics, 3 against the Pistons and 2 against the Lakers. 5 of the 8 take place at the Q where the Cavaliers look simply unbeatable. With losses on the road to Boston and Detroit already in the books, some still question the validity of Cleveland's start. Those 8 opportunities will be the showcase for the Wine and Gold to prove their playoff worth.
We'll look closer at those 8 games a bit later. For now, the Cavs must keep on doing what they have been for entire season -- playing suffocating defense, getting out and running, hitting free throws, resting LeBron in the 4th quarter. It is gut-buston funny to me that LeBron has played in just one 4th quarter the past 7 games. ONE! Imagine what that does for the Cavaliers come March and April. The only thing scarier than LeBron James in a 7-game series is a fully rested LeBron James in a 7 game series.
The next week and a half should tell us alot more about the road-readiness of the Cavs. Starting last night, the Cavs will play 7 games in 12 days -- 6 of those are road games. Tough tests in Philadelphia and Denver await, to go along with a tough trip to Atlanta. The more the Cavs win, the more hype that will surround every road game, at least for the opposition's fans.
As we head into the second quarter of the season, take a second to smile, Cavs fans. These guys are DAMN GOOD, and will liekly be the closest thing to a World Championship the city of Cleveland has seen in a long time.