48-34 (Tom), 54-28 (Gil)
Last Year’s Record
The biggest victims of the subprime mortgage crisis appear to be Sasha Pavlovic and Anderson Varejao, who can’t get bupkes out of Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, who made his fortune at online mortgage broker Quicken Loans. Improbably enough, both players were vital contributors to the Cavs’ even more improbable NBA finals run. That run was similar to the back-to-back finals appearances by the Nets from 2001-2003. As a Nets fan, I had a great ride, but I never really believed it was happening, which is a sure sign of succeeding in a weak division. I think Cavs fans felt the same way.
In this case, the Cavs benefited from the fact that Flip Saunders was coaching the other team in the eastern finals. Mike Brown, on the other hand, got his team focused on defense and designed offensive sets that skillfully got everyone out of LeBron’s way.
In addition to failing to re-sign its free agents, the team hasn’t added any new talent. They seem to think that Boobie Gibson will blossom into a legit player and that Larry Hughes will be able to do anything that complements LeBron’s game, and that LeBron will be capable of repeating his monster-sized run from the playoffs, even though he slacked off for half of last season.
Rejoinder From Tom
LeBron James Over-Exposure Hangover Year.
Gratuitous Comics Connection
Harvey Pekar is not only Cleveland’s great comic book signifier, he’s one of Cleveland’s great signifiers, period.
Gratuitous Pharma Connection
I spent 24 hours in Cleveland to visit a contract manufacturer of cytotoxic drugs. It doesn’t get any better than that.
The Bottom Line
That said, the east will probably be haggard enough that the Cavs will continue to be a top 3 team, and 54 wins is more than the Nets managed to win in either of those finals runs.Â –GR