To say that there's an overall sense of uncertainty surrounding the Cavaliers this season is an understatement. I can't remember a time when projections for any team ranged as dramatically from one person or publication to the next as they do right now for the 2010-11 Cavs. I touched on some of this Sunday over at WFNY, but to that point, Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo! has the Cavs winning 12 games this season. Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer has them winning 46. ESPN's J.A. Adande has Cleveland finishing 15th in the East, and Chris Broussard has them finishing 9th. Former Cavs beat writer turned Heat Index columnist Brian Windhorst's got them coming in at the 11 spot.
What I wonder though is what would people think about this Cavs roster if they could look at them in a vacuum. I understand LeBron left, and I understand he took MVP numbers out the door with him, that's pretty clear by now. Simple math says the Cavs will now score 30 less points a game, grab seven less boards, and facilitate fourteen less points for teammates on a nightly basis. Is it that simple though? In a lot of ways I suppose it is. The Cavs are certainly at least 15 to 20 games worse than they've been the last two seasons. Nobody's denying that. But I do think it stops there. I also think that different roles create different opportunities, and in this Byron Scott offense the Cavaliers will surprise some teams this season.
The Cavs will win 41 games this season: Throughout the offseason I've made this same prediction a few different times, on a few different websites, and nothing I've seen or heard throughout the preseason is changing that opinion. I think 41-41 is attainable. Beyond that, I also think 40 + wins will be the goal for the organization this season.
Much of the uncertainty lies in the questions about what will happen to the Cavs roster this season. Could Andy actually be dealt? Will the season be tanked in a quest for guys like Harrison Barnes? I can't pretend to know the answer on Andy, but I think I know Dan Gilbert's answer to the second question - no.
If I was coming from the same place Dan Gilbert is, I'd want to win as many games as possible this season to show anybody who cares to comment that you know who left a good roster behind and didn't make people as much better as some think he did. Might be immature, might be spiteful, but I'd honestly do the same thing. Sorry.I think it's also important for the Cavs as an oganization to stay as relevant as possible this season, and the only way to do that is to suprise some people and win as many games as possible. With the interest in the Cavaliers dwindling as it is based on this past summer's events, would anybody care at all about this team if they posted a 15-win season this year?
The Cavs will be the 8th seed in the playoffs: Forty-one wins got the Bulls into the playoffs last season as an eight seed, and I think it will be just enough for Cleveland this season. It will be dicey though. The season's excitement level around here will climax in a race for that 8th spot, and I expect it to be a log jam from 8-11.
I will admit that the difficult part about sitting back and saying - as I am - that the Cavs will win 41 and make the playoffs as the 8th seed is predicting who they will beat out to do so. Meaning they will have to beat out some teams that may appear better on paper than Cleveland does right now.
So to be clear, I'm saying that MIA, ORL, BOS, CHI, MIL, ATL are in for sure. That's six. I'm stopping short of saying the Knicks and Wizards are in for sure, as well as the Bobcats and whoever else you want to name from the Eastern Conference. One of those three teams will finish seventh. The Cavs will beat out two of the others for eight spot.
The Cavs will lose to the Heat in the first round of the playoffs: Probably get swept actually. But it won't be before LeBron James has to return to Cleveland for a playoff game. In doing so, it will make abundantly clear to all NBA on-lookers that the team LeBron James could not win an NBA championship with is a playoff team even without him.
Heads held high around the 216 for a couple days. Take that haters.
Then, as soon as the clinching game is in the books, there will then be a run on Kobe Bryant jerseys as all Cleveland area Foot Lockers will be sold out by the time the second round gets under way.
Cavs tip things off on Wednesday at home against Boston. Check back in with us all week as we ramp things up for the season.