Wednesday , Nov , 28 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Beating Boston Celtics Doesn’t Make LeBron James & Cleveland Cavaliers Contenders

The reigning Eastern Conference champs beat the east’s best team. Last night, the Cleveland Cavaliers pulled out an exciting overtime win against the Boston Celtics. And after a slow start, the Cavs have suddenly reeled off four consecutive victories and now resemble the squad that qualified for last year’s NBA Finals …

The Associated Press reports on Cleveland‘s win over Boston:

LeBron James scored 38 points, Drew Gooden added a season-high 24 and Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 15 as Cleveland‘s threesome outplayed Boston‘s heralded triumvirate during a 109-104 win in overtime on Tuesday night.

James, who has raised his game to another level, scored 11 points in OT as the defending Eastern Conference champions dropped the Celtics to 11-2 with one of their best all-around performances of the early season.

James added 13 assists and finished 14-of-15 from the line, including 6-of-6 in OT. He, Gooden and Ilgauskas outscored Boston‘s Kevin Garnett , Ray Allen and Paul Pierce 77-64.

My Quick Take: The reigning Eastern Conference champs beat the east’s best team.

Last night, the Cleveland Cavaliers pulled out an exciting overtime win against the Boston Celtics. And after a slow start, the Cavs have suddenly reeled off four consecutive victories and now resemble the squad that qualified for last year’s NBA Finals.

Cleveland fans must be excited-especially with James looking like the second coming of Oscar Robertson. However, there are still holes in the Cavs’ roster, which will become a problem.

They lack depth. The reserves only contributed eight points against the Celtics. And every starter logged more than forty minutes of court time. Don’t expect the bench production to improve once Donyell Marshall and Larry Hughes return from injury. Marshall is past his prime; Hughes has never found his mark in Cleveland.

In fact, Gilbert Arenas even blogged about Hughes’ frustration with the Cavs’ offense:

”You paid Larry money because Larry did something well: he scored. You can’t have a guy who averaged 22 points one year and then go somewhere new and not get the same average and then you bash him. No, if you want him to be what he was, you need to change the tempo of your game. . . . I know Mike Brown came in and tweaked the defense and stuff like that, but if you want to utilize what Larry Hughes is, you need to open the floor and let them run more. With that team, your defense isn’t going to go anywhere. . . . I know a lot of coaches say the players need to fit their systems, but sometimes you have to tweak the system a little too. It’s a 50-50 thing.”

And Hughes did little to downplay Arenas’ comments:

”That’s my man; I don’t have a problem with him saying any of it,” Hughes said when asked about Arenas’ comments. ”That’s a guy who knows me, a friend talking; he knows me enough and what I am feeling more than a lot of people.”

The one-spot is still an issue. After all, the Cavs have wasted years trying to find a legitimate point guard. Eric Snow isn’t the answer, Hughes is a scorer, and Boobie Gibson doesn’t create for others. In the next few months, Cleveland will have to trade for a natural table-setter.

Of course, the east has gotten better, too. Boston looks like a contender. Orlando is a rising power. And Detroit, once they get healthy, should compete.

Bottom line: returning to the NBA Finals will be a tough task for Cleveland.

How good are the 2007-08 Cavaliers? Is their bench and point guard a problem? Get at us in the comment box below with your thoughts.

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