Mo Williams guaranteed the Cavaliers will get to the Finals and we're about to find out if what he said is for real.
That's because the Cavs are staring down their most difficult stretch of the season, playing four straight road games against teams who are fighting for some serious playoff positioning.
It all starts tonight in Houston against a Rockets club that is trying to rediscover itself and figure out a way to win without injured star Tracy McGrady, out for the year. After that, it's on to San Antonio (Friday), then Atlanta (Sunday), then Miami (Monday).
That's right, the Cavs play two back-to-backs on the road, two of which take place in cities where they've already lost this season (Atlanta and Miami). In fact, the Hawks and Heat are currently ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Eastern Conference playoff seedings.
Meanwhile, the Rockets and Spurs are considered two contenders in the West, teams who are hopeful of knocking off the Lakers and have the manpower to do so.
As for the Cavs, well, they too have every reason to feel confident -- having won five in a row and sporting the best winning percentage in the East (.800) as of Wednesday evening at 44-11.
But now comes the tough part, and all you need to do to realize that is take a quick look at the schedule. Following the upcoming four-game trip through the south, the Cavs return home to play Milwaukee (Wednesday), but then have to go to defending champion Boston. Not surprisingly, Celtics All-Star forward Kevin Garnett may return from a knee injury that night.
Also, the Celtics have added energetic forward Mikki Moore to the team since their last meeting with the Cavs (a win for the good guys in Cleveland last month), and are expected to sign veteran point guard Stephon Marbury as early as Friday. Marbury was waived by New York on Tuesday.
It gets better, or TOUGHER if you're the Cavs. After the Boston game, they'll stop back home to face Miami, and then head out to West for games at Phoenix, Sacramento and the L.A. Clippers. Granted, the Suns are struggling and the Kings and Clippers stink ... but you just never know. Road wins are never easy to come by, regardless of who you play.
Back to Williams. As you're likely well aware of by now, he told ESPN Radio's Stephen A. Smith that the Cavs would make it to the Finals earlier this week. And he didn't back down when approached by reporters before the Cavs' win over Memphis the next night.
""That's our goal," Williams said. "I expect nothing less than to get to the Finals. That's what we're playing for, to win a championship." As for the idea that the Celtics likely heard Williams' guarantee, he said, "I don't care. They know. It ain't no secret. They feel the same way."
Of course, the rest of the Cavs remained silent on the issue, and probably wisely so. Only coach Mike Brown would address it when pressed, telling reporters that the Cavs' goal "is an NBA championship," and that it's "not something we're trying to hide from."
Nor is it that bold of a statement now that the Cavs are getting healthier, with Delonte West expected to be back in the lineup tonight and LeBron James playing more and more like a clear-cut favorite for league MVP. No question, the Cavs are championship-caliber team and they've been proving it all season long.
And their upcoming trip is just another chance to prove that they truly are among the very best.
* How dominant have the Cavs been this season? Dominant enough that they lead the Central Division by a whopping 16 games. That's the biggest lead in their division since the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls (led by You Know Who).
* It also just happens to be the biggest lead in any division at this point of the season since that same year. This year's Celtics also hold a better-than-15-game edge in the Atlantic Division, at 16½ games.
* Bob Finnan of the News-Herald reported that "Eric Snow will see the doctor in a few weeks for the final step in his disability claim. If the doctor says his knee condition is so bad that his career is over, his salary could come off the Cavs' books."
* And when it finally happens, everyone in Northeast Ohio will be able to give a hearty AMEN.
Sam Amico is the co-host of the "Wine & Gold Zone" Monday nights on SportsTime Ohio, the editor of ProBasketballNews.com, and a frequent contributor to TheClevelandFan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.