There are two classes of teams in the East this season: the powerhouses (Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat) and everyone else. Last night in Miami, the Cavaliers attempted a late comeback against the Heat powerhouse, but fell just short. The third place team in the East, the Atlanta Hawks, is only a .500 team. By comparison, the West’s third place team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, is 18-4. Actually all but three teams in the West are over .500.
The Cavaliers are 6-8 against teams over .500, fourth best in the East. But here is the secret to the East this season; the Cavs do not have to win against either of the top teams in the East. Picking up rare wins in Indianapolis and South Beach will be huge gains for Mike Brown against the weak field. With only three games against Indiana and one against Miami left in the season, the Cavs can focus on doing what they do best, beating mediocre teams.
A young, talented, but inconsistent Cavaliers plus numerous below .500 East rosters on their schedule may very well equal the last spot in the playoffs for a city desperately looking for hope in any sporting arena. For Dan Gilbert, Mike Brown, and company, hope is seeing the playoffs for the first time since Lebron James left the city for sunnier pastures.
If the Cavaliers are looking to follow a model most recently successful for the Thunder, this is a crossroads season. They have built a team with multiple lottery picks including first choice sensation Kyrie Irving, but have yet to capitalize on pure talent with a run at the playoffs.
Cleveland’s Wine and Gold warriors will make it into the promise land due to just above average play and the emaciated East. Not the battle cry of a title contender, but this year the Cavs may want to change their moto to “just good enough.”
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