The 08-09 Cavilers are not your father’s team.
By Bill Smith
I will admit a bias toward the Cavs. I spent many an interesting night in the old downtown Coliseum with Walt Westley and the crew. I was there the night the Cavs won their first game against the Lakers. They almost needed a new arena after that game because the stomping by the fans in support of the ugliest uniforms in the league almost caused the building to implode.
I also bought 10 shares of stock in the Cavs when they sold shares to raise money. But I have to admit, this team is not anything like that team was.
On Sunday and Monday, the Cavs did something they could not do just a year ago—win 2 tough back to back road games with 4th quarter comebacks against really good teams. The maturation of LeBron James is a big part of the improvement but it was the addition of Mo Williams that put the team over the top.
In both games the Cavs were behind in the 4th quarter and came back to win against Atlanta and Miami respectively. This was without their inside defensive force Ben Wallace. The Cavs showed a toughness and grit that was missing from the team just a year ago. It might be enough grit to make a run at another NBA final series.
Against the Hawks, the Cavs were down 5 points with less than 2 minutes left. Williams got a 3 point shot that tied the score and then the Cavs got a stop. James drove to the basket and got fouled with 1.6 seconds left. He made the second free throw to win the game.
The next night at Miami, the Cavs were behind by 11 in the 4th quarter. James told Williams “it’s up to us.” Williams responded by scoring 15 of his 30 points in the final 7:14 of the game to salt it away.
In previous years, the Cavs won at home but struggled on the road particularly in back to back road games. This year is different. Now, given the loss of Wallace, there are rumors that PF Joe Smith may be on the way to Cleveland. The Oklahoma Thunder bought out Smith’s contract making him a free agent. Even if that does not happen, the Cavs have something very special going on this season.
This team is mentally and physically tougher than any Cavs team in the history of the franchise. These two wins show that. Williams has added far more than just a great player, he is the other major scoring threat that the team desperately needed. When teams face the Cavs now, they have to consider doubling Williams at times in addition to James.
Given this teams improvement, when Wallace gets back, he could be the final piece that is needed to make the Cavs a real threat for a championship. That is critical. James wants to win. If the Cavs show him that he has a better chance to win multiple championships in Cleveland than in New York or elsewhere, I am convinced he will stay.
That would be a gift for a city and a state that really could use one.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .
My email is [email protected]
The 08-09 Cavilers are not your father's team. by Bill Smith