Last night, the Cavaliers and Pacers match up at Quicken Loans Arena set the stage for one of the brightest stars in Cleveland to shine. Not LeBron James, but Anderson Varejao.
The 6'11" 260-pound Brazilian lit the fuse that sparked the Cavs offense in the second quarter of last night's game, shooting 6-6 from the field. He helped to propel the Cavs to a 14-point lead at the half.
When Varejao first came to the Cavaliers in 2004, he was noted for being a strong defensive force off the bench while leaving something to be desired on offense to say the least.
This year however, 'Wild Thing' is shooting .624 percent, while maintaining his role as a defensive presence.
Other big play-makers for Cleveland Friday night included Mo Williams(17 points), Daniel Gibson(14 points), Delonte West(14 points, seven assists), and Zydrunas Ilgauskas(17 points, eight rebounds).
Hmmm...does it seem like someone is missing from this list? Could it be King James? Could the player who has been hailed as the man who single-handedly carries the Cavaliers into contention every year possibly have had an off day where he is not even worth mentioning among the key players in a victory for his team?
Get real. James played strong as usual and posted a double-double with 11 assists and a season-low 11 points.
If this game showed anything it's that the Cavaliers success is not solely dependant on the performance of one player. The reason they are in first place and winning games by huge margins as they have been is their ability to gel and play together as a team.
They have the talent to compete with any team whether James is in or not and they seem to be utilizing it in a way that they were unable to grasp last season.
The Pacers may currently be in the cellar of the central division, but they have still managed wins against some strong teams, including the Celtics and Lakers. Point being, this game was by no means a gimme for Cleveland.
In the first quarter it looked as if Cleveland had their work cut out for them as the Pacers couldn't miss, while the Cavaliers' players just hoisted long-range jumpers that weren't falling. Rushed shots led to countless bricks (enough to build a cathedral) and they ended the quarter with a slim 21-20 lead.
It is this mentality that hurt them last year and will need to continue to squelch this year to keep up their winning ways.
The way the Cavs played from the second quarter on is why they are in first place. As long as King James isn't left to lead the charge alone, a championship will remain within reach.