The Cavs are middling around with a 9-12 record that places them firmly in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference. Detroit is 14-6 with a 5.5 game lead in the Central Division. Is it time for Cavs fans to prepare themselves for a string of road playoff games against the likes of Toronto or Washington?
Let’s put things in perspective.
1) LeBron has missed (essentially) six games. The Cavs have won 0% of the games in which LeBron doesn’t play. But in games in which LeBron James does play the Cavs win 67% of the time. Since LBJ has definite Iron Man tendencies, the .667 winning percentage is probably more indicative of the team’s overall abilities than the .429 winning percentage they own right now. Meanwhile Detroit has not lost any starter to long-term injury and yet has only won 70% of their games.
2) In addition to missing LBJ the Cavs have also been without Marshall and Varejao, two of the most productive players on the team last season, and Larry Hughes, who is not one of the most productive players but whose absence has forced an out-of-shape Pavlovic into a role for which he probably wasn’t physically ready. Varejao is now back with the team, Hughes is now able to play, and Pavlovic is now in shape (not to mention the ancillary bonus of Shannon Brown). This all bodes well for the Cavs, who are on the verge of having a formidable eight-man rotation.
3) Detroit winning 70% of their games is far less impressive when you consider that they’ve also played the second easiest schedule in the league. Things are going to get tougher for the Pistons.
4) Meanwhile, the Cavs have played this second toughest schedule in the league. Things are going to get easier for the Cavs.
So the Cavs are getting healthier, deeper, and will likely be facing a relatively easier schedule over the rest of the season. There is reason for optimism.