Say My Name
Time for a hot-take/overreaction. How 'bout them Cavs!? I'm all in on the reconstructed Cleveland Cavaliers. They have played one game together, against the Celtics, in Boston. And they absolutely destroyed them. On Paul Pierce's jersey retirement ceremony retirement day no less. There was LeBron James, Pierce's sworn enemy, tearing apart his beloved Celts and staring at his former teammates Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo, as well as his former coach Doc Rivers, all there to support Pierce on his big day.
The starting line up on this first step towards the 2018 NBA Finals? Here's where it gets fun. I'm pretty sure Tristan Thompson played center and George Hill played point guard. I guess J.R. Smith was the shooting guard. LeBron started at King and Cedi Osman, well he just plays basketball.
Sadly this piece is not about Cedi. Well not completely. This is about the latest version of the Cleveland Cavaliers, of which the young Cedi Master is certainly a larger component than in the last edition. You know how it is with OS updates. Some are an upgrade, others make you wish you had never clicked on that update reminder that just kept popping up. Well for the Cavs, that update window was popping up on a nightly basis. Something had to be done, the system was about to crash.
And here we are. Cleveland Cavaliers 2018 version 2.0.
Alright, that was Cedi again. But there is a theme developing here.
These guys appear to genuinely like each other! It's a new day in The Land. How 'bout some stats:
Cedi Osman: 12 points, 5 rebounds and an assist on 4 of 8 shooting in a team high 30 minutes.
J.R. Smith: 15 points, 6 rebounds and an assist on 6 of 7 shooting, with a steal and 2 blocks, in 29 minutes.
The King: 24 points, 8 rebounds and 10 assists, with a steal and a block (led the Cavs in clapping and enthusiasm).
George Hill: 12 points, went 3 for 4 on 3 pointers, got to the line (4 of 4 free throws).
And off the bench:
Jordan Clarkson: 17 points, 3 rebounds, an assist, 2 steals on 7 of 11 shooting, including 3 of 4 on 3s.
Larry Nance: 5 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists
Rodney Hood: 15 points, 3 assists, a steal and a block on 6 of 11 shooting.
Everybody else was already on the team and did what they do. It all added up to a dominating 121-99 victory over the Eastern Conference leading Celtics. This one single game said more about the state of the Eastern Conference than it did about the new look Cavs. The Celtics had jumped out as the favourites in the East, based on incredible defense and a capable offense. In 2018, the Celtics offense is ranked 25th, and their defense could not stop the revamped Cavaliers. There is another team in the East that appeared poised to step in and seize the opportunity, as the self inflicted iceburg wounds dragged the Titanic Cavaliers beneath the heavy seas of NBA supremacy. Y'all wanted it. You might not like getting it.
Here's some Raptors news. This is the best version of the Toronto Raptors we have ever seen. Kyle Lowry has taken a little step back as DeMar DeRozan has emerged a little more. The Raptors as a team have changed as Dwayne Casey has them shooting more 3 pointers then ever and relying less on their top two players. This team is deep. Their best quality is their depth. They are a great regular season team. You could even say they are knocking on the door. Unfortunately, when the playoffs begin and the teams shorten their benches, a 9 man rotation is not going to help these Raptors. They may be able to avoid the Cavs until the Conference Finals again. But if they do make it that far, and they think they are the one knocking on the door...
So the Raptors are not the danger. LeBron, via Walter White, has made that clear. So back to Sunday's domination of the Celts. Statement game? You better believe it.
The Boston Celtics didn't entirely know what they were going up against on Sunday. They knew the Cavs used to be a big organization, a championship pedigree, a perennial contender. They thought that time had passed. But on this day, they found themselves face to face in the desert, and they found out who they were really dealing with:
The Cleveland Cavaliers. You're goddamn right.