2015 NBA Weekly: Who’s the Cavs likely Eastern Finals opponent?

Okay, the Cavaliers are once again in a funk after losing 2 straight games — the last one by a blowout against the Portland Trailblazers who didn’t even play with Damian Lillard. Hey, the Cavs didn’t play with Kyrie Irving, too!

Well, that’s the point. Kyrie is already on minutes restriction, so why was he even made to sit out when he just came back? Shouldn’t the Cavs just be guided by those minutes instead of a DNP on Kyrie? Yeah, to ease him back sooner! Or, were the Cavs just confident of beating the Blazers that time?

So who got beat now?

December 26: Cavs losing to the Blazers, 76-105 (Photo: AP)
December 26: Cavs losing to the Blazers, 76-105 (Photo: AP)

Still, that doesn’t diminish the Cavs as the favorites of the East. Then who do you think could challenge them in the Eastern Conference Finals come PlayOffs?

The Hawks? They may currently be second in the East’s standings but just the same, the addition of Tiago Splitter won’t help their cause unless they move him to the starting lineup to match up against Mozgov who’s just too big and strong for Horford in the middle.

The Raptors? Okay, they may have gotten DeMarre Carroll to slow down LeBron James but one man’s toughness won’t do much against the whole Cavaliers’ team. There has to be better team effort — and ‘toughness’ within each guy on the floor.

The Pacers? Yes, they have returned to ‘elite’ status in the East with the comebacking Paul George and his tremendous play; but what happens when George ‘takes a break’? Who do they turn to? Ellis? Hill? Miles? That explains some of their ‘winnable’ games.

Fact is, only 2 teams come to mind when thinking of who could in fact beat the Cavaliers in a seven-game series. Yup. Miami Heat. Chicago Bulls.

Miami just has a deep bench that even the likes of Stoudemire who still has a lot of ‘All-Star’ caliber juice left in him doesn’t really get to play much. So what’s the reason why Miami’s not winning as many games? Goran Dragic. Luol Deng.

Goran Dragic drives on a waiting Joaquim Noah
Goran Dragic drives on a waiting Joaquim Noah

Dragic to this point hasn’t found his place under the sun, I mean Heat. Maybe he was just meant to be a Sun. ‘Cause with the Heat, he’s just limping with his shots. And his overall playmaking? If he were a little more efficient then the Heat could have won maybe 3 more games at least.

Deng. Is he kinda deteriorating already? Now imagine if Dragic and Deng were to have an ‘impact’ in the starting lineup like teammates Gerald Green and Tyler Johnson have been providing off the bench. Wow! And they haven’t even maximized Stoudemire, McRoberts, Udrih and Winslow!?!

Chicago? They’re actually in a deeper funk than Cleveland. Really. While Gasol has been playing at an All-Star level and Butler has come to his own — Derrick Rose still has to really get his bearings back. That says a lot on his ‘locker room’ voice. If Rose could get back to form then the team would ‘stabilize’ as everybody would be more, shall we say, ‘energetic’ in every play.

Derrick Rose against Luol Deng
Derrick Rose against Luol Deng

Tell ya, they just got a complete team. And though Noah injured his shoulder recently, Joaquim Noah is starting to play like the Noah we all know — the good news is, he’d only be out for, what, 2 weeks. This would make the Bulls are tough team to beat come April.

Yes, Cleveland may be at ‘full strength’ now. But suddenly, that’s the problem. Just too many players. Know what I mean? This is why they are struggling to develop that rhythm. And this could be bad if they face either Miami or Chicago in the PlayOffs.

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