The defending NBA Champions are most likely heading back to the finals in 2017. The Cleveland Cavaliers are the best team in the Eastern Conference. There does not appear to be much competition for them this season.
The Cavaliers assembled the Eastern Conference’s best overall roster.
The Cavaliers amassed a 13-4 record through the first 17 games of the season. Cleveland has been pretty dominant on their home floor. The 9-2 record at Quicken Loans Arena is the best in the Eastern Conference.
The Cavaliers are clearly the best team in the central division. This makes them a playoff team by default. The early 1-2 record against division opponents, however, is rather concerning. The two losses were against the Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks, both by 10 or more points. The Pacers and Bucks are the two worst teams in the central, by record. The one victory , thus far, was against the Detroit Pistons.
Sure, Cleveland only played three games against division opponents thus far. They should have no problem hitting their stride against the rest of the central. Again, the Cavs are by far the best team in this division.
LeBron James and Kyrie Irving are a dominant duo, but we already knew that.
James is still considered the best player in the NBA. He is, however, slowly beginning to push his teammate, Irving to the forefront. Do not be misunderstood: LeBron is averaging 23 points, eight rebounds and nine assists through the first 17 games. He is having another stellar season worthy of an MVP award.
Cleveland fans are beginning to see the transformation. Irving is averaging 25 points per game. He leads the Cavaliers in scoring. Kyrie is also shooting 43 percent from beyond the arc. This dominant duo is arguably the best in the NBA. James’ ability to dominate inside the paint and Kyrie’s ability to dominate from the three point line is just too good to beat.
Offensive contributions are found all over the place.
The Cavaliers are fourth in the NBA in scoring, averaging 110.3 points per game. James and Irving were just highlighted as Cleveland’s dynamic duo. Several other players contribute to the league’s fourth most efficient offense.
Kevin Love is averaging 21.4 points per game. Love is also the only player in the NBA to score 30+ points in a single quarter this season. His 34 points, in the first quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers, is a new NBA record.
Role players like Tristan Thompson and J.R Smith provide offensive support to the big three. Smith is averaging 8.1 points per game. Thompson is averaging 10.8 points per game. They are not gaudy statistics, but they do not have to be.
The Cavaliers are second in the NBA at three point shooting. Their 39 percent is the best in the Eastern Conference. The Golden State Warriors are ahead of them, overall. Cleveland’s ability to score the fourth most points is incredible considering they are 16th in the league in field goal percentage.
Their success from the three point line is a huge reason; more points in bunches. The Cavs are also 10th overall in rebounding. If the team gets the ball often, their chances of scoring increase.
What about defense?
The Cavaliers are currently 14th in the NBA in points allowed per game. They allow 104.3 points, on average, to opposing teams. The recent blowout loss against the Los Angeles Clippers exposed a solid but not spectacular Cleveland defense. Another concern is the defensive struggle against opposing three point shooting. The Cavs are currently 20th in the NBA, allowing 36 percent.
The defense should stiffen as the season continues. They are better than what the early season struggles indicate. Look for the Cavaliers’ defense to be improved mightily by January.
The Beasts of the East.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are the best team in the Eastern Conference. Their potent offense, continual improving defense and stellar home-court advantage will propel them to another central division championship. The Cavaliers are projected to win close to 60 games in 2016. Nobody else in the east can reach that mark.
This means Cleveland will have the number one seed in the conference, once again. Fans saw how that turned out last year. The Toronto Raptors appear to be the only real competition standing in the Cavs’ way. Nobody else in the east looks formidable enough to take down Cleveland.
Detroit? Boston? Chicago? Washington? New York? The Eastern Conference just cannot catch a break. LeBron might find himself in his seventh consecutive NBA Finals in June.