The Cleveland Cavaliers have been a topic of discussion for seemingly all the wrong reasons this season.
Whether it’s questions about how Kyrie Irving likes playing with LeBron James, LeBron’s cryptic social media ways, or firing their coach mid-season despite a winning record, much of the attention on the team has been focused off the court. However, on the court, the Cavs have been quite good. They’re currently first in the Eastern Conference at 51-20 with a 2.5 game lead on the Toronto Raptors.
Yet, for as well as they’ve played, everyone seems to be counting the Cavs out as a title contender. Or, at the very least, they’re considered to be well below the level of the top two teams in the West: the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs.
But, if you ask the people on the ground in Cleveland, they’ll tell you, this Cavs team is better than last year’s that pushed Golden State in the Finals.
“They’re a better team now than they were a year ago,” said 92.3 The Fan host Andy Baskin on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “Have they looked coherent and cohesive? No, they haven’t. But, they’re a better team right now. Think about it. Channing Frye and Richard Jefferson are better than anything they had on the bench last year. Anything. They had nothing coming off the bench last year. If Ty Lue wants to go to a 10 or 11 man rotation, he can do it.”
Depth aside, what else makes Baskin so sure that this team can compete at a higher level than a year ago?
“I just think they’re starting to hit their stride. I think the Cavs are going to win the East and it’s going to be another battle in the Finals,” said Baskin. “They beat San Antonio this year for whatever that’s worth, it’s a regular season win. They struggled against Golden State, we get it, we understand it, but they rolled through the Clippers. This team is not a bad team. If you want to underestimate the Cavs, you’re going to get punched in the face. If Kevin Love gets around 18 shots a game, he’s going to give you 25 and 12 a night. They need to get Kevin involved, they need to get Kyrie to buy into the team. I think they’re there right now, they’ve stepped up. I’ll be shocked if the Cavs are not in the Finals. Just think about it, LeBron almost beat Golden State with Matthew Dellavedova last year. They’re a better team. If they’re healthy, it’s going to be game on.”