Saturday, May 20, 2006

I hate moral victories...

But should the Cavaliers lose Sunday, there are some definite positives that can still be taken out of this series and used for the future.

1. The Pistons' mystique should be completely debunked by now.
If the Cavs want to become a championship contender, the Pistons are going to be there every year as a huge hurdle, regardless of what happens Sunday.
In this series, the Cavs have proven to themselves that they can compete with Detroit on their level, and have a realistic chance to defeat them in a seven-game series. The Pistons are no longer a team of mythical power and legendary status.
As LeBron James said, "It's not like they're the Big Bad Wolf and we're the Three Little Pigs." That mentality should serve them well in future playoff encounters (which are highly likely) as long as the Cavs are willing to put forth the effort to beat them.

2. Flip Murray and Anderson Varejao have proven their worth to Cavs management.
Heading into the postseason, a lot of us were wondering who besides LeBron was going to step up and help this team win playoff games.
We now know Varejao and Murray can be those types of players. Hopefully, GM Danny Ferry feels the same way and offers Varejao a contract extension, and free agent Murray a new deal.

3. The Cavs have made their strongest case to LeBron.
By taking the Pistons to the limit, the Cavs have put the last -- and most critical -- piece in place to sell LeBron on his upcoming contract extension offer.
Following significant upgrades to The Q, a planned state-of-the-art practice facility and taking care of LeBron's every basketball need, the Cavs have, last but not least, shown LeBron that he can front a title contender in Cleveland.
LeBron has given every indication that, as long as he feels the Cavs can give him a legitimate chance to win titles, he would sign the contract extension he will be offered this summer.
With this performance and the right moves this summer, there is a very good chance the Cavs will be a strong contender to win a title a year from now. Hopefully, LeBron sees things the same way and signs on the dotted line.

4. The Cavs can "D" up when need be.
Heading into this series, the Cavs were branded an all-run, no-defense team that was going to get creamed by the fundamentally-sound Pistons. Then the Cavs performed a remarkable transformation, turning into a solid defensive club in the middle of the series. Even in Friday's loss, they still only allowed the Pistons 84 points.
If they can lock down on defense like this regularly, the Cavs will win 55-plus games every year and be a regular participant in the later rounds of the playoffs.
Now, if they could just play solid defense without getting every single member of their frontcourt in foul trouble.

5. Cleveland has become a basketball town.
For the first time in years, the Cavs are the center of attention in Cleveland.
The Cavs are the subject of the late-night horn honking, bleacher crazies and water-cooler buzz that used to only accompany Browns and Indians playoff appearances.
The"We Are All Witnesses" campaign by Nike has been a runaway success, kind of like LeBron himself. Game time brings legions of fans, both on the clock and off, huddled around televisions in various places of business, reacting to every shot.
That buzz is going to carry over to next season. Cavs tickets are going to be a hot item, and fans who only paid passing interest in years past are going to be clamoring for them. Cavs games on television are going to be more than background noise.
For the first time ever, the Cavs are going to be the dominant team in town. In a city of slobbering Dawg Pounders, that's saying something.

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