That's what this year's Cleveland Cavaliers are. And that's not a bad thing.
If the Cavs have shown nothing else all season, they've shown that are willing and able to play pretty much any style of basketball and win while doing it.
You want to go Western Conference, up-tempo, push the ball at any opportunity and run until the cows come home? The Cavs can go small and run right with you. You'd rather play a plodding, physical, squeeze the clock and pound the ball down low style? Go ahead and take your chances with Shaquille O'Neal and a bigger lineup and have it at.
Tuesday night at ‘The Q' the Cavaliers employed a little bit of both styles in beating the Toronto Raptors 108-100. The first half resembled a Western Conference jail-break and saw the Cavaliers squeak out a 62-60 halftime lead. But in the second half the Cavs went big and imposed their will on the Raptors down the stretch getting numerous key defensive stops and some deft passing from O'Neal out of the post to bring home their 32nd win of the season.
It wasn't easy.
The Raptors are playing good basketball and had won 10 of their previous 13 games before Tuesday night. They can shoot the ball and they did so very well for three quarters before running out of gas and running into some inspired Cavalier defense when it really mattered.
When push eventually came to shove it was O'Neal that was pushing and shoving and setting up LeBron James and Mo Williams with big assists to sew up the win. James, as usual, was all over the court scoring 28 points, handing out 11 assists and grabbing 9 boards. It was a near triple-double for LBJ on a night when he was struggling with his jump shot. But 22 points from Williams, 16 from Shaq, and 26 points from the bench more than compensated from James' 0-7 shooting from beyond the three-point arc. Williams also found the time to dish out 10 assists of his own on a night when the Cavaliers tallied 27 assists on 38 field goals.
Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani led the Raptors with 21 and 19 points respectively. Cavalier nemesis Hedo Turkoglu scored just three points in 24 foul-plagued minutes of play.
Why is that important? Because there will be numerous times in the playoffs when that exact tactic is called for and its clear the Cavaliers are becoming more comfortable in initiating some offense through O'Neal. And they should be. Because The Diesel, for all his bluster and all his light hearted banter, is a very good passer as well as a very willing passer. They're going to need to utilize O'Neal more in that role down the road. They're going to have to keep going to him down low in order for him to score enough to demand the double team, but with as big as he is and with the mismatch he usually has physically against the man guarding him, the Cavs can get almost any look they want out of that set.
You could see Hickson almost blushing at the attention and you could see that Shaq's attention had an effect on J.J. Like I said, he's a walking comedy show, but Shaq knows when it's time to talk and when it's time to work and he's a positive influence on the floor and on the bench.
Williams, buried in a shooting slump that spanned pretty much the entire west coast trip, found his groove again on Tuesday night. The Cavs point guard was a respectable 7-15 from the floor but he did knock down 4-8 three-point tries.
I'm not going to lie, Mo concerns me a bit. He's a bit too streaky to be the #2 go-to guy behind LeBron, especially when one recalls his struggles in the playoffs a year ago. If the Cavs mortgage the future for a guy like Antawn Jamison it'll be because they've reached the same conclusion and are convinced a legit second scoring option is their one missing piece.
And to be honest, I think it benefits Mo to step back to the third or fourth option if the Cavs can get that legit #2. He'd be much more effective without the onus on him when LBJ is either off the floor or not open.
They Got Next
For the life of me I can't remember who the Cavaliers face on Thursday night at ‘The Q'. Ahh...yes... it's the Los Angeles Lakers who come to town. Probably with a bit of a chip on their shoulders after the Christmas Day beat down they absorbed at the hands of the Cavaliers. That one is an 8pm start on TNT.
There's also another good one Saturday night (730pm, FSN Ohio) when the Oklahoma City Thunder make a January trip to Cleveland.