The Cleveland Cavaliers could not have started the postseason any better. They're a perfect 10-0, and are beating their opponents by an average of 13.4 points per game. Only three of their games have been decided by a single-digit margin. They are, quite simply, dominating.
Their domination has led to a very important Twitter debate: Are the Cavs really good, or is the East really bad? For most non-Cavs fans, the answer seems to be the latter:
When LeBron was in Miami there was always a good team in Boston, Chicago or Indy. Just no threat to him at all this time.— Brian Mahoney (@briancmahoney) May 18, 2016
I find it wild LeBron is about to coast into the finals with a team that probably loses to any of his Heat teams lol East is so bad— Matt Morello (@MattMrX) May 19, 2016
1: Cavs aren't going 16-0.— Andy Bailey (@AndrewDBailey) May 20, 2016
2: If, by some miracle, they do, there better be an asterisk and explanation of how soft the East was.
As bad as Raptors have been this Postseason its insane that they're going to the ECF! Honestly this may be the weakest East in over a decade— NBABattles (@NBAWars) May 15, 2016
That said best lineup features real liabilities on D. No one in east is good enough to exploit it. So I'm skeptical. Mid 00s Suns esque 2/2— sam esfandiari (@samesfandiari) May 20, 2016
But when exactly did we decide that the East was so bad?
If you go back to the start of the playoffs, all 21 of ESPN's experts picked the Cavs to beat the Pistons in the first round. However, only two of them picked the Cavs to sweep. Four of them thought the series would last SIX games. The consensus at the time was that Detroit would be a feisty opponent that could provide a tough first round test.
And in many ways, that turned out to be correct. The Pistons may have been the toughest challenge the Cavs have yet faced. The fact that the series was over in four games should not diminish how frisky they were.
Then there were the Hawks. The conventional wisdom now seems to be that they were not a worthy challenger. But what about at the time?
Again, all of ESPN's experts picked the Cavs to win the series. But only Chris Broussard predicted a sweep. Five of them thought it would go six games, and two thought it would last the full seven. Also, there was this almost-prediction:
Hawks are +800 to win the East. Hmmmmmm...— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) May 1, 2016
So the idea that the Pistons and Hawks were mere speedbumps on the road to the Finals seems to be new.
This is not to suggest that Cavs have not been the beneficiaries of some good fortune. A team that some people also thought could challenge the Cavs, the Miami Heat, had to deal with injuries last round, and the Raptors are dealing with an injury to Jonas Valanciunas this round.
But let us at least dispel with the fiction that the Cavs' first two playoff opponents were bad. The Pistons and Hawks were perfectly fine eighth and fourth seeds, respectively. The Cavs just made it look easy. And for some reason there does not seem to be much mention that the Warriors' first two opponents were the Rockets and Trail Blazers, hardly the stiffest of competition.
For the Cavs, the answer to all of this probably lies somewhere in the middle. They are playing very well, better than anybody expected; but at the same time, there isn't another team in the conference with the talent to match them in a seven game series.
Of course, none of this matters. It's a fun debate to have on Twitter or talk radio, but at the end of the day, we're likely going to find out the answer if and when the Cavs get their chance to face off with the Warriors or Thunder. Until then, it's nice to know the Cavs are playing some of their best basketball. Everything else is just academic.