I am never one to go overboard about any win during the NBA Regular Season. This isn't the NFL where every game in a 16 game season is important, or better yet, College Football, where every game is life or death, ask USC. I also am not a firm believer in statement games, and like I have said many times before, championships are not won or lost in January.
That said, last night's 98-83 dismantling of the Boston Celtics was a solid guage of where the Cavaliers are right now, both in terms of the Celtics and more importantly, heading into a tough stretch of games to finish the month which includes the dreaded West Coast Swing(cue scary music). It was good to see the Cavaliers play so well, against top-notch talent, without Zydrunas Ilgauskas who will likely miss each one of those games.
The Cavaliers never trailed, not once, and maintained a 7-10 popint lead much of the night. The Celtics made their run, you knew they would, and the Cavs held. LeBron's stat line -- 38 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks, 4 steals -- was his most complete game of the season. Perhaps even more impressive was James' defense which is starting to get the attention it deserves. James made life on the court hell for Paul Pierce who was never able to get goig, except for a couple of minutes to start the 4th quarter with James on the bench.
That's what is great about James this season. He is bringing it on the defensive end of the floor every night, not just in the big games or against top opponents. Whether it is Gerald Wallace of the Bobcats or Paul Pierce, LeBron's effort has been there. Now there is even talk of LeBron beig a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. Through 35 games, it would be a deserving award. People want to play their best against LeBron, regardless of record. LeBron has been up to the challenge.
While it is only one game, you could tell both teams wanted to win. As Pierce said before the game, the Celtics wanted to win last night to prove to themselves that they could. Coming in the Celtics had lost 6 straight in Cleveland, with their last win coming over 4 years ago. They lost all 5 games they played against the Cavaliers last year, including 3 in the playoffs.
It is the Cavs who must make a statement when these two teams play again. We'll have to wait awhile, though, with Round 3 not scheduled until March 6 in Boston.
For now, however, the Cavaliers will enjoy a good win against a solid opponent. So much can happen over the next 4 months that it is way too early and there is way too much basketball left to really dwell on it too long. It sure is nice to be sitting with the #1 seed, however, and last night showed just how important Home Court advantage will be come April and May.