I said it in my preseason pick and break down of the NBA season 2009-2010 and I am going to reinterate that point now. Cleveland is the team to beat in the NBA this season. Things are going pretty much just as I wrote then that Cleveland would have some challenges out of the gate but would come around once this team gets use to playing together.
After Cleveland started off with a couple of losses a lot of haters and pundits were asking the question if the Shaq trade was hurting the Cavs. This was about one of the craziest questions I have seen in sports. You can get Shaq on your team in a trade for Ben Wallace and Shasa ? Anyone who asked that question should be banned from commenting on anything related to sports.
Mike Brown is a better coach than most people will give him credit for and this Cleveland team will not start playing their collective best until after the allstar break. They have been playing well of late and have beat some pretty good teams including: Orlando, LA, Miami, Dallas, Portland, Houston, Phoenix, and Atlanta.
Mike Brown is starting to find his rotation and Mo Williams is finding out how to be a consistent 20 point scorer on this team. On the defensive end Cleveland has stepped their defensive game up and the new guys are learning how to play Cleveland team defence.
They are asking Shaq to match up when a team has strong bigs like LA, Orlando and Boston. They only need 10-15 points and 7-10 rebounds a game from Shaq in about 22 minutes of play during the regular season. I expect his minutes to go up to about 27-30 in the playoffs and him a Z seeing some court time together against bigger line ups.
Parker and Moon are defending perimeter players just as they were brought in to do. Parker is shooting the 3 better than anyone in the league and Mo Williams and Gibson are not far behind. The bench is learning how to run offence with Lebron out of the game. This is the only weak spot right now but that has improved over the last 8 games.
I have seen Cleveland and Boston live this year and when the Celtics are on their game their ball movement is impeccable but they are not playing with the same intensity on defence as years past. They still have one of the best points allowed and Cleveland is close behind them.
Where Cleveland takes the rest of the league is their bench and their bench will be even better by playoff time because Leon Powe will be with the team.
Lebron is the X factor and if this team doesn't win it all I would be shocked. He can make up for any holes on this team and there are very few.
Write it down the King will be crowned in June 2010 NBA champion!