With the way the Cleveland Cavaliers are bulldozing their opponents in the playoffs, it appears the Lebron James-led squad is bound for a return trip to the NBA Finals this year.
The Cavaliers’ 99-72 rout of the road weary Atlanta Hawks today, only showed Cleveland’s readiness to take the NBA title this year.
However, I felt that it’s still too early in the playoffs to say that the Cavs are simply going to breeze through the Finals with ease, much like what they did against the overmatched Detroit Pistons during the first round.
I think the only serious threat to James and the Cavs’ quest for the franchise’s very first NBA championship in the East comes between the Orlando Magic and the Boston Celtics.
Of course, the Magic have the advantage at this stage with their 1-0 semifinals lead over the Celtics. And with a talented triumvirate of Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu leading the way, the Cavs will have to make some major adjustment should they finally cross path with Orlando in the Eastern Conference Finals.
On the other hand, should the Celtics luckily escape against the Magic in the semifinals (which would certainly be very difficult considering they don’t have Kevin Garnett and Leon Powe in the frontline), James and the Cavs then have an opportunity to exact revenge against Boston, which outlasted Cleveland in seven exciting playoff games last season.
Over at the West, last season’s runner up Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks are still locked up with their respective NBA playoffs series.
Certainly, should the Cavs advance to the NBA Finals, they will have their hands full against either the Lakers and Kobe Bryant (but they better beat Houston first in the semifinals) or the Nuggets, whose playoff run has been greatly inspired by one-time Denver cast-off Chauncey Billups.
Either way, the Finals would be fun to watch, with Lebron James, the newly crowned NBA MVP matching up against either Kobe Bryant or Denver’s Carmelo Anthony.
But that’s going to be another storyline reserved for June. As for now, the Cavs will simply have to continue improving their defense while the bench will have to play with consistency, if they hope to get the inside lock for the franchise’s historic first NBA championship.
What do you think? Will 2009 be the Year of the Cavs?