Monday, May 3, 2010

Why the Cavs Will Beat the Celtics

It has nothing to do with LeBron. Ok, that was a lie, it has everything to do with LeBron. But this year, in the Cav's quest to win it all, he has more help than ever.

Shaq. Antawn. Those were the two big names, the former All-Stars that Danny Ferry added to the roster in his win-at-all-costs strategy. And it has worked. Shaq has provided a much needed post presence (an up-and-under layup and an offensive rebound layup in the final 2 minutes were priceless), Jamison fought Garnett stoicly, set good screens, and got boards. But it was the lesser-known players that have put this Cavs group over the top.

Anthony Parker, J. J. Hickson, and Jamario Moon will likely combine for 0 All-Star appearances among the three of them. But they have meant much to this current Cavs team. When Rondo was raging freely across the paint on Saturday, in came Parker to body him and keep him uncomfortable. While Garnett was scoring on Jamison and Shaq was in foul trouble, Hickson scored 3 times from within 10 feet. Moon didn't do much in the last game, but has been sizzling from downtown this postseason and simply finds ways to demand playing time.

What difference have these three made? Just look at the lineups. Last year in the ECSF against the Magic, the Cavs bench really let them down. Outside of Varejao, no one coming off the pine could provide any consistency, defensively or offensively. Now they have Delonte West (starter last year) off the bench to provide passing and scoring. Hickson is there, and so is Moon. Ilgauskas can't get in the game, the Cavs are so deep, and who know's where Danie Gibson has gone.

This is the kind of depth that few NBA teams have exhibited. 2 starters last year come off the bench. Boston can't say that; in fact, outside of Glen Davis, I don't trust anyone on their bench. Orlando has Gortat, Pietrus, Reddick, and Jason Williams, which I admit is a good group, but West will destroy Reddick/Williams, Moon is slightly worse at Pietrus, and Zydrunus/Marcin is a draw to me. The Hawks have Zaza and Jamaal (who happens to play very good, but they need that to make up for Marvin William's non-existence). The Lakers have Odom. Who knows what the Jazz have. The Suns will terrify you with Frye, Barbosa, and Dudley, while the Spurs have Parker and Blair. I mean, a lot of teams have a few guys, but the Cavs have the unique ability to go deeper. It's not just about having the talent; Mike Brown has done the inexplicably brilliant thing in developing his bench throughout the season, getting guys involved so that in the playoffs, the Cavs can afford to go more than 7 deep. And this has nothing to do with LeBron, other than the fact that without him, this team is competing with New Jersey.

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