Can anyone imagine the panic that may have ensued had the Cleveland Cavaliers lost at home to San Antonio last night?
Thankfully, the Cavs emerged victorious with a 117-103 win at The Q, thus splitting the season series with the team who has the second best record in the Western Conference.
So, the only one of the top teams in the West that the wine and gold have had issues with is Golden State, who beat them twice.
At the very least, Cleveland will split with the other top seeds, having already defeating Oklahoma City and the Clippers at home.
And the loss to the Warriors in Oakland was by a scant six points. So, once again, we will tell you that was a aberration. The Cavs played terribly two weeks ago, while the defending champs played very well.
As for the Eastern Conference competition, the Bulls seem to be Cleveland’s toughest nut to crack.
They lost to the 2nd seeded Raptors by four in Toronto, and hammered the Raptors at home by 22 points.
The Southeast Division leading Hawks lost to the Cavs at The Q by 10 points in November, and the two teams don’t meet again until Game 76, by which time Tyronn Lue’s bunch might be resting players because the #1 seed in the East is settled.
The wine and gold have lost twice to Chicago, although there were extenuating circumstance both times. The first came Opening Night in the Windy City, and the Cavaliers dropped a game at home in Lue’s first game as head coach following the firing of David Blatt.
In fact, the Cavs next big test will be a home game on February 18th against Chicago, the last game of an upcoming five game home stand, and the first game after the All Star break.
That will be followed by a trek to Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder.
And then, following two more home games, the Cavs will travel up north to Toronto to play the Raptors.
So, following the All Star Game, three of Cleveland’s first five games will be pretty big tests against some of the NBA’s best teams.
After that stretch, the schedule will lighten up a bit, save for another four game swing out west, where the wine and gold will play the Kings, Lakers, Clippers, and Jazz in a six day span.
However, 12 of the last 20 games will be on the road, again though, if the Cavs can put some distance between themselves and the other top teams in the East, those later contests won’t have much of a meaning.
And Lue’s squad seems to have figured out a winning formula away from home, winning nine of their last 1o away from Quicken Loans Arena.
The offense seems to be humming to, with the Cavs scored more than 110 points in five of the last six games, the only hiccup coming in the loss to Chicago.
The downside is they have allowed more than 100 points in five of their last eight games. Some of that could be because of the faster pace the team is trying to play, but if they can tighten up on that side of the ball, the Cavaliers will be just fine, thank you.
Despite all of the hand wringing after the loss to the Warriors, the fact is, this is one of the elite teams in the NBA, one of only perhaps four or five teams that can hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
They are so good that you can pick out the tests for the team on the schedule. They passed one last night, but the next one won’t really come until after the All Star Game.