Is There No One Amongst You ? C’mon Now !
Slowly but surely, one can sense there’s some urgency about LeBron James’ game and his initial pursuit of that elusive first NBA title . He and the Cleveland Cavaliers have gone about posting ‘the best record’ in the Eastern Conference . And if nothing else they’re looking to acquit themselves for last season’s loss in the conference finals to the Orlando Magic .
With a 45-14 mark, the Cavaliers have the best record within the Central Division and the ‘best overall’ within the entire NBA, besting the mark of the Los Angeles Lakers’ 43-15 in the Western Conference . Now make of that what you will but ‘the great teams’ know how to overcome adversity when placed under real pressure during the regular season. In doing so , it prepares them for the much more difficult task of post-season play , where it’s all or nothing. My colleague, Sportschump had simply put so much into the fact that this Cavaliers’ team had lost three straight games recently to top flight opponents, in the Denver Nuggets , Charlotte Bobcats and the Orlando Magic . Now that asides , were those losses to lesser teams within the NBA , then there would be cause for concern for this Mike Brown coached team. As it would suggest either the rigors of ‘fatigue’ or just ‘sheer complacency’ by the Cavaliers.
Within the Eastern Conference the battle for dominance and supremacy essentially rests between three teams. They are the Boston Celtics , the Cavaliers and the Magic . All three have been playing at an exceptional level. Though it must be said , each each of the triumvirate has had their share of false starts but at the same time they’ve been able to overcome those deficiencies. As to what that might suggest, can be best summed by ‘the very fact that the Eastern Conference won’t be won by a team that is performing inconsistently ! I made this a point to Sportschump, that for Cleveland , the conference is theirs to lose. And that will only happen, if they show complacency on their part. As good as both Boston and Orlando are. And both teams are very good by the way ! But they’ve still yet to show me that when faced with ‘real adversity’ , they both have what it takes to stare it down and beat it with some ease. In Doc Rivers and Stan Van Gundy , the Celtics and Magic possess two coaches with a great deal of experience between them and a coaching staff that is as good as any within the NBA . Each has made an appearance in the NBA Finals as a coach. As too, has the Cavaliers’ Mike Brown and it is becoming more apparent that each would like nothing better than to make another appearance there, this season. This in essence sets up what may well turn out to be ‘one hell of a dogfight between the three’, as they battle for conference dominance and supremacy. It favors the Cavaliers at present and with the playoffs dictating that ‘the team with the best record’ within the conference has home-court advantage throughout the postseason. Let’s just say that the odds still favors the Cavaliers at this point. And it is likely to do so through the remainder of the regular season.
Courtesy of Associated Press & Yahoo Sports
By Brian Mahoney , AP Basketball Writer
Boston (AP)—The Celtics were better early, then LeBron James and the Cavaliers blew right by them.
Story of this game.
Story of the season.
James had 36 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, Mo Williams scored 14 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, and Cleveland dominated the second half in a 108-88 victory Thursday night.
Unable to stop Rajon Rondo or the Celtics in the first quarter, the Cavaliers turned up the defense in the fourth, limiting the Celtics to 3-of-21 shooting and snapping a nine-game losing streak in Boston, counting playoffs.
“We haven’t had much success here,” James said. “We’ve lost nine times coming into this building. So it gets the monkey off our backs. But don’t read too much into it.”
James kept the Cavaliers in it for three quarters on a night they lost Shaquille O’Neal to a first-half thumb injury, then Williams made four 3-pointers when Cleveland outscored Boston 35-14.
“I think in the second half our level of aggressiveness really stepped up on both ends of the floor,” Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. “There was no panic among our guys. We knew 24 minutes was a lot of time. We just started chipping away from it.”
Ray Allen scored 21 points, and Rondo had 19 points and 11 assists for the Celtics, who badly missed injured All-Star Paul Pierce (right thumb) when their offense went stagnant in the final 1 1/2 quarters.
“They were a lot more aggressive in the second half. They made adjustments to stop Rondo’s penetration,” Celtics forward Kevin Garnett said. “We knew it was a real big test. We can’t play one half and relax.”
Cleveland improved to 20-10 on the road, tying Boston for the best in the NBA, and avenged a 95-89 home loss on opening night.
That came back when Boston looked like the class of the Eastern Conference while the Cavaliers struggled early. But the Celtics have been unable to stay healthy and Cleveland has left the Celtics and everyone else in the East behind, opening a 5 1/2 -game lead over Orlando while dropping Boston 7 1/2 games back in a tie with Atlanta.
Click on the above link to read this Brian Mahoney article in its entirety.
Last night the Cavaliers and Celtics met in a game that would give us enough of an indication as to where both teams now stand at this point of the season. And with both teams having added to their respective rosters, it would also give the fans a chance to see those newly acquired players. With Nate Robertson having been acquired by the Celtics via a trade with the New York Knicks . It was presumed that it would give the team some balance, added offense and a certain amount defensive presence from the diminutive Robertson. In the case of the Cavaliers they acquired Antawn Jamison from the Washington Wizards , sending Zydrunas llgauskas in the opposite direction. Jamison gives the team that additional rarity of a player who can shoot ‘the three’ with added ease, just as much as he can be creative around the basket and give the Cavaliers that added offensive productivity that they so desperately required. And this was the main reason why Brown and Cavaliers’ GM Danny Ferry viewed him as better option and fit, than the Suns’ Amar’e Stoudemire . Many probably question the choice , as Stoudemire offer the Cavaliers a proven offensive presence and a very good defensive player. But given the team’s long term view that Stoudemire would no doubt seek free agency at the end of the season. The prudent choice seemed to have been the safer and better choice financially for the organization . We shall see as the rest of the season unfolds for the Cavaliers.
The game prove to be ‘one of missed opportunities’ for the Celtics as ‘their offense spluttered’ over the final two quarters. It resulted with the Cavaliers easily winning the game with the usual customary effort forthcoming from LeBron James, who led all scorers with 36 points, in his team’s 108-88 victory over the Celtics. And though Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo did all that they could to stave off defeat , it simply wasn’t enough on the night for Celtics in front of their home crowd at the TD Banknorth Center, Boston and that of the Celtics’ senior partners ‘Wyc’ Grousbeck and his father H. Irving Grousbeck . For Celtics’ GM Danny Ainge this had to have been a troubling scene, to witness this team suffer such a lopsided defeat at the hands of the Cavaliers. With the fact that one of their veteran All Stars , Pierce Paul Pierce was unable to play due to injury. The defeat only exacerbates the situation even further as it now places the team just a little further behind both Cleveland and Orlando in the conference standings . And now nipping at their heels with a similar record of 36-20 are the Atlanta Hawks . So now what essentially was meant to be a ‘three horse race’ now has the potential of turning into a ‘four horse race’ , with all four teams within 7 1/2 games of one another.
As I alluded to earlier , it’s still my firm belief that the Cavaliers can not only end up with the best record in the Eastern Conference of the NBA but also win the conference championship and outright ! The conference is theirs for the taking and the margin between themselves and the rest of their opponents within the conference just seems to be widening in terms of their play and competitiveness. Whether or not there is a team up to the challenge of upending the team’s postseason aspirations remains to be seen. But as Brad Pitt’s character ‘Achilles’ is heard to have said in the movie ‘Troy’ (2004) ………….’is there no one else ‘…..? ‘ Is no one amongst you ‘ ? This is the challenge that the rest of the conference faces at this moment in time. Who amongst the seven other teams vying for a playoff berth is actually prepared to ‘challenge the Cleveland Cavaliers’ ? Your thoughts on the matter , if any ?
NB : Click here to see the Cavaliers’ schedule . Click here to see the Celtics’ schedule . Click here to see the Magic’s schedule. (In each case schedules shown are the teams’ regular season game’s schedule-through the month of February). Just click on the additional months shown to view their remaining regular season as indicated.
Alan Parkins aka tophatal ……………..
As with Homers’ ‘The Illiad’ (The Battle of Troy). The landscape that is now the Eastern Conference playground for LeBron James, who may well view himself as the league’s version of Achilles. But remember, even Achilles had a weakness and that was, his heel – ” Achilles’ heel “.
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