No more excuses.
This is the year.
It has to be.
The city of Cleveland’s title drought will finally come to an end when LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers bring home an NBA Championship this season.
In his previous six seasons, James has not been on a more complete team than this year’s Cavaliers squad. They have everything they need to bring a title to Cleveland:
* They have LeBron James
* They have the “Wine and Gold Trio”
* They have someone to match up with Rashard Lewis and Lamar Odom (Antawn Jamison)
* They have Shaquille O’Neal
* They have a deep bench
* They have 3-point shooters
* They have home-court advantage
James won is second NBA MVP this season and is one of the top superstars in the league, if not the top. He is in his seventh season and he is hungry for an NBA Championship.
Michael Jordan won an NBA title in his seventh season and I’m sure James would like nothing more than to match Jordan in that aspect of his career.
Every NBA Champion has an elite player, the 1960’s Celtics had Bill Russell, the 1980’s Celtics had Larry Bird, the 80’s Lakers had Magic Johnson, the Bulls had Jordan, the current Lakers have Kobe Bryant and the Cavaliers have James.
James can take over a game if needs to, ala Game 5 of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals against Detroit.
On that night, James scored 48 points and completely took over the end of the game, scoring the Cavs final 25 points and 29 of the team’s final 30.
Just as important as it is for a title-contending team to have that “go-to guy,” it has to have a great supporting cast.
Of that supporting cast, at least one player or a combination of players must separate themselves from the others and be the so-called “Robin” to “Batman.”
Jordan and the Bulls had Scottie Pippen. The 60’s Celtics had Bob Cousy, Sam Jones and John Havlicek to go along with Russell.
Bird’s Celtics had Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. Magic had James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabar. The current Lakers have Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom playing “Robin” for Bryant.
Cleveland has been searching for James’ “Robin,” since he has been there. I believe they have found their “boy wonder” with the combination of Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison.
So far in this year’s playoffs, each are averaging over 16 points per game, Jamison with 17.3 PPG and Wiliams with 16.3 PPG.
Jordan never had two other guys average 16 PPG in the playoffs and he won six titles. If James wants to be considered as one of the NBA’s greatest, he has to get the job done this year.
There are no excuses considering the Cavaliers’ “Wine and Gold Trio” (LeBron James averaging 32.3 PPG, Antawn Jamison and Mo Williams) each are averaging over 16 PPG.
Last year, the Orlando Magic’s Rashard Lewis exploited the Cavs big time. Lewis is a four who can stretch the floor and create all sorts of problems. Lamar Odom, of the Lakers, is a similar type of player.
Previously, Cleveland had no answer for a four who could stretch the floor. With the mid-season acquisition of Antawn Jamison, the Cavaliers now have somebody who can step out and guard players like Lewis and Odom.
Thus, there is no reason why match-ups with Orlando in the Conference Finals or Los Angeles in the Finals should create the types of problems past Cavalier teams have had.
Let’s face it. Shaq was brought into Cleveland for one reason, to guard Dwight Howard.
Last year, Howard made Cavaliers’ big men Anderson Varejo and Zydrunas Illgauskas look silly in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Cavs brought the big guy in, in an attempt to make post-play more equal in a possible series with Orlando.
Not only does Shaq add size to the Cavaliers, but he also brings experience. He has four rings and gives Cleveland someone who knows what it takes to bring home the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Cleveland’s bench is the deepest in the NBA, without question. JJ Hickson, who started 76 games during the regular season, is coming off of the bench in the postseason because there is no place for him in the starting lineup with the return of Shaquille O’Neal.
Last year’s starters Delonte West and Zydrunas Illgauskas are also coming off the bench.
Other bench production comes from Anderson Varejo, Jamario Moon and Daniel Gibson, who are each capable of making an impact on a game, given the opportunity. Remember Gibson’s fireworks in the 2007 Playoffs?
This year’s Cavaliers can actually increase the lead with the second-team on the floor, unlike past Cleveland squads.
In the playoffs, 3-point shooting is essential. NBA Playoff history is filled with memorable 3-pointers from guys such as Steve Kerr and Robert Horry.
It should not be a problem for the Cavaliers if they need a timely three from somebody down the stretch.
Cleveland has three players (excluding Ilgauskas, who has only made 11 3-pointers this season) who shot over 40 percent from the land of three during the regular season—Mo Williams, Anthony Parker and Daniel Gibson.
As a team, the Cavs shot 38.1 percent from 3-point range, second in the NBA.
Be sure that before this year’s run is over, someone for the Cavaliers will have to hit a clutch 3-pointer.
I know that Cleveland had home-court advantage last year and it did not get them to the NBA Finals, but they did not have everything mentioned above. Home-court advantage in the playoffs can’t be overlooked, it is important.
The fact that the Cavs could win an NBA Championship without having to win a single road game is noteworthy, especially the way Cleveland plays inside Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavs are 84-9, including the playoffs, the last two seasons at “The Q.”
If any Cleveland series goes to a seventh game, Game 7 would be played in Cleveland. I can’t see the Cavs losing a Game 7 inside their own building.
It is definitely NBA Championship of bust for this year’s Cavaliers, as it should be. No other Cleveland Cavalier team in history has had as much going for them as this year’s team does.
There are no excuses for this team. Cavaliers’ GM Danny Ferry has done everything he can do to bring the city of Cleveland the long-awaited championship it deserves.
All the pieces are in place and the qualities of a championship-caliber team are there. It is now up to the team to get the job done.