This season has flown by. 8 games are left out of the long 82 game season, and the Cleveland Cavaliers have the best record in the NBA. LeBron James has shinned brighter than ever before, dominating all comers. If the season ended today, this is what we would see. The Cavs winning the Eastern Conference by 6 games over the Orlando Magic, the Cavs winning the Central division by 17 games over the Milwaukee Bucks. The Cavs having the best record in the NBA by a 4 game margin over the reigning NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers. Not too shabby at all.
The hot topic of this week came from ESPN’s John Hollinger who reported in a story on ESPN Insider, that LeBron James is on the verge and has a strong possibility of having the best statistical season ever recorded in the NBA. This is no shoe in, but imagine if LeBron is able to complete this feat. Would that be enough to cement his legacy as the best ever? Or at least put an end to the crazy talk that Kobe Bryant is still a better player than the King? I am not a basketball expert by any stretch of the means, so I won’t get into all of that kind of hooplah, but it is still worth noting that Cleveland’s resident King is on the verge of an amazing feat.
Looking at the last 8 games of the Cavaliers regular season, the team does not have any ‘easy’ wins. I say that given the fact that anyone can really win on any day, and the fact that the team is playing several potential playoff teams. They face off agasint, in this order, Milwaukee, Atlanta, Boston, Toronto, Chicago, Indiana, Orlando and Atlanta again. We all know a lot about the Celtics and their aging team with over bloated testosterone, and aggression levels. The Magic are arguably the 3rd best team in the NBA and proved last post-season that they were a difficult match up for the Cavs. Maybe Shaq will be back by the time we take on Dwight Howard again. The Hawks recently booked their ticket to the playoffs in stunning fashion and will be a tough match up, we play them 2 times, so that is 4 really tough games out of the last 8. Indiana and Chicago can be good some nights, but are most likely not going to present too many problems. Toronto is currently the 8 seed in the East and that is likely going to be a playoff preview of round 1, unless the Bulls beat them out for the last spot. Milwaukee is another tough game, they are sitting at the 5 seed, and have proven a tough match for the Cavs all year long. However, this time around we have LeBron in the lineup.
This is a very beneficial schedule for the Cavs while they gear up for the playoffs, there is 8 games in roughly 3 weeks, which is a little bit closer to playoff pace, and it is against almost all playoff level competition. What might be a bad thing for the Cavs is that they are in a groove right now and might be having to find more minutes for Big-Z and work Shaq back into the rotation, which is a good thing for our championship hopes, but it will potentially disrupt some of the team chemistry for the time being. There is no clear time table set though for Shaq’s return, several different things have been batted around but we have not heard anything solid yet. A sooner return for the Big Witness would be much more beneficial to the team looking at the championship aspirations. JJ Hickson has been playing incredibly well the last week though, and it will be a shame to see his minutes cut yet again, but it is for the good of the team, and the experiences now will only help him continue to develop and be a go-to center in the future. The last few days the Cavs have really dominated with the front-court trio of James, Hickson and Antawn Jamison, while the back-court seems to have been struggling. Just another thing for the team to get straightened out against quality competition in the next few weeks. As long as the Cavs win 4 of the 8 games they are guaranteed at least a share of the best record in the NBA, and as long as they do not lose 6 of the 8, they have the #1 seed in the East assured.
But there it is, the team is geared up and ready to go, playing very solid basketball at the most important time of the year. The final 8 games will be a good test of the team’s abilities and their chemistry heading into the playoffs. As long as nothing catastrophic happens between now and then, the team looks like a sure fire bet to finish with the best record, home court advantage and potentially, we all hope, an NBA Championship.