When the best team in the league faces the worst team in the league, it's not hard to predict the outcome. However, that so-called "worst team" sent a wake-up call to any future opponents when the New Jersey Nets took down the Boston Celtics on their own court.
The Cleveland Cavaliers heard that wake-up call and refused to allow any upset of that sort to happen on their watch.
LeBron James led the way with 26 points, 14 assists and 7 rebounds as the Cavs cut down the Nets 111-92.
During last week's upset over the Celtics, the Nets used a few runs throughout the game to build a lead and then held on to win the game. Tonight, the Cavaliers refused to allow any of that nonsense.
Four minutes into the game, Cleveland led 10-9 when they decided to turn on the jets. Using their trademark defense to force turnovers and a new style of run-and-gun on offense, they rattled off a 25-6 run that ended the first quarter with a dominating lead of 35-15. The Cavs run was well-rounded, with five different players putting in at least two field goals each.
For the remainder of the game, the teams basically traded mini-runs. New Jersey never drew closer than 11 points, and the Cavs never extended it beyond 22 points.
The Cavaliers now have won five games in a row, and 18 of their last 21. They are now 22-10 on the road, best in the NBA.
Prior to the game, the biggest concern for the Cavaliers would be playing against Brook Lopez and Yi Jianlian, New Jersey's young 7-foot twin towers. Minus a true center, the Nets game plan would surely be to pound the ball inside to their big men. New Jersey didn't disappoint as their big men combined for 35 points and 24 rebounds (Lopez 21/14, Jianlian 14/10).
Yet, the Cavaliers' response from the inside game was equally as impressive. Antawn Jamison and J.J. Hickson combined for 39 points and 22 rebounds (Jamison 19/9, Hickson 20/13) .
When you counter your opponents' biggest strength as well as the Cavaliers did, and you still have LeBron James on the court, the outcome isn't hard to decipher.
Jamison's output is his best in a Cavalier uniform, as he appears to have put his horrific debut well into his past. In the six games Jamison has played since that first night, he has averaged 17.3 points and 8.2 rebounds. Even his biggest critics would have to concede that he's proving his worth, but it is still early.
Meaningless stat of the night - The Cavaliers win, coupled with the Charlotte Bobcats loss, reduced their magic number to 3 over Miami and 4 over Charlotte.
Their magic number over the entire Eastern conference is 14.