A warm welcome please for the 2008-2009 NBA Eastern Conference champions: your Cleveland Cavaliers. That's rare air people. Rare as in ‘Never Before'.
Wonder how that tastes in Boston?
On Friday night in the Wachovia Center the Cavaliers had a carrot dangling in front of them that they weren't about to let slip by without taking a huge bite. And with home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference within their grasp they simply went out onto the court and outplayed the Philadelphia 76ers for just about the entire 48 minutes in a 102-92 win.
Friday night was a case of a playoff-bound 76ers team being outclassed on their home floor in pretty much every facet of the game by a team steamrolling through the regular season.
And Philadelphia didn't play poorly. They shot a respectable 46% from the field, got to the line far more often than the Cavs did and committed only seven turnovers on the night. And still they were never really a threat after the half.
That the Cavs were able to notch another double digit win on the road should come as no surprise; they're playing at a .650 clip on the road. Again, and with emphasis, there are only 4 teams in the NBA with an overall winning percentage higher than the Cavs .650 percentage on the road.
Per usual, LeBron James led the Cavs in scoring with 27 points and in assists with 10. Mo Williams added 18 points and Delonte West chipped in 11 points and seven rebounds but the biggest assist for James and the Cavs on Friday came from the bench. Wally Szczerbiak scored 18 points, Joe Smith added eight of his own and Ben Wallace changed numerous shots and hauled in five rebounds.
On a historic night on which the franchise earned their first ever Eastern Conference title nearly everyone on the roster contributed. Somehow with this team that's fitting.
Wally Szczerbiak was a perfect 4-4 from deep and Delonte West knocked down three more long balls. Even Zydrunas Ilgauskas joined the party with a game clinching three with about a minute to play that put the ballgame away.
Not to mention that if things don't break the Cavaliers way Friday night in Portland that Cleveland may need to run the table in order to maintain that precarious lead.
Three games in five days to close things out for the Wine & Gold. None of them are ‘gimmes' either.
Boston comes to ‘The Q' on Sunday for a 3:30pm tip on ABC. The Celtics will be without the services of Kevin Garnett who will again rest a tender knee but no Cavs fan needs to be reminded of the Boston Beat-down that the Celtics administered to the Cavs the last time the two teams faced off without Garnett on the floor. The Celtics are still battling the Orlando Magic for the 2nd seed in the east and they'd like nothing more than to solidify their position and at the same time end the Celtics ‘Curse of the Q'.
Right after the game with the Celtics ends the Cavs will head to Indiana for a Monday nighter with the Pacers (7pm jump on FSN). The Pacers, for whatever reason, usually play the Cavs hard and tight.
The regular season finale is next Wednesday at the ‘The Q'. That's an 8pm start (FSN) and the Cavs host the 76ers on Fan Appreciation Night.
Things get started in earnest after that one.