It isn't just that the Cavs have now won 3 games in a row. It's how they've won them. Amazingly, this team, that was the source of so much angst just over a week ago, is the favorite to win this game.
Obviously, the emergence of Andrew Bynum as a legitmate force has been a huge part of this. Tristan Thompson has realized his role playing along side a man who takes up so much space in the lane. Thompson has averaged 15 points, 14.8 rebounds and 1 block during that one week time period, in the 4 games that started with the win against the Chicago Bulls on November 30th. Bynum has shown that he is capable of contributing 30 minutes of basketball.
DION WAITERS INTENSITY IS A PART OF WHAT HAS LED THE CAVALIERS TO A GAME THEY SHOULD WIN TONIGHT
(David Liam Kyle NBAE/Gannett)
Anderson Varejao has fit seamlessly into his new role with Bynum in the lineup and Thompson solidified in the role of power forward, backing up Bynum and also spending time on the court with Bynum during rare periods. Varejao's 17 reboudns against the Clippers somehow and amazingly made the Cavaliers frontcourt look like a giant wall of rebounding prowess and a relentless human buzzsaw at the same time.
Things are coming together and all the panic was unwarranted. All the complaints about Mike Brown's offensive scheming, about Chris Grant's teambuilding and about the glacially slow progress of rookie Anthony Bennett are already a sidenote. It is game 20, and this team has shown signs that it is coming together.
Meanwhile, the Knicks, whom the Cavaliers have defeated in 10 of the last 12 contests here in Cleveland, are coming off the worst loss any team has be dealt this season, a 114-74 loss to the Boston Celtics. Tyson Chandler, who has anchored their defensive effort, has been out of comission with a fractured right fibula. Carmelo Anthony has been the subject of early speculation that he will leave the Knicks after the season.
Last season the Knicks were victim to a 31 point 6 assist 5 rebound average from from Kyrie Irving. It seems impossible to believe, but for the star who has been embattled though the first 20 games of this season and struggling with his shooting, a game against the struggling and underachieving Knicks could be exactly what changes perception of who the Cavaliers are and what they can be this season.