I know it’s mandated that ESPN writers hate on Cleveland, but 5th? In the East? Really?:
The Cavs aren’t really built to be a good regular-season team, and if James misses any time they’re going to rapidly slip in the standings — they lost all seven games that he missed last year.
But they should be better than they were last season. Having Varejao around for a full season will do wonders for the defense, and Williams is a major upgrade at the point. Plus, there’s the possibility of doing something much more grand with Szczerbiak’s expiring deal and really remaking this team into an offensive force.
Too many holes remain for this team to outlast mainstays like the Pistons and Celtics for a top seed. The frontcourt is counting on two aging warhorses in Ilgauskas and Wallace, the shooting guard situation is dicey at best and, other than Varejao, the bench offers decent role players but little real quality.
Fortunately, they have James, and in a playoff series that makes them a threat to beat anyone — even Boston, as we learned last spring. The problem is they’re going to have to do it on the road, because they aren’t built to handle the 82-game grind that precedes the playoffs.
Prediction: 47-35, 2nd in Central Division, T-5th in Eastern Conference
What kills me is that he mentions that the Cavs lost every game James sat out last year… like he was the only one hurt (Z, Varejao, Pavlovic, Hughes and Gooden all missed time).
5th? Please give this team a reason to have a chip on its’ shoulder. Please.
[UPDATE] Well, Marc Stein has ’em ranked 6th…. overall:
Although trading for Michael Redd was a nice fantasy, getting Mo Williams off the Bucks is hardly a consolation prize. He’s a younger version of the Mike — Bibby — Cleveland tried for years to add and should give Bron help.