King James and his Cavaliers will tonight host the Detroit Pistons in a showdown whose chemistry has changed dramatically in the past few years. Not 2 seasons ago, this would have been a Eastern power house battle, with the emphasis on Detroit to come out with the W. Yet, as advertised, we are all witnesses, and we have seen Cleveland shift the balance on the Pistons, mutating through trades and personal improvements into what is today the best team in the NBA. Just don’t tell Kobe.
The transformation from contenders to favourites has been dramatic, as illustrated by the Cavaliers staggering home record this year. Detroit may be in town, but Cleveland, much to every Piston in the world, have bigger fish to fry. They are hunting down a truly frightening record, a record which turns a visit of Detroit into ‘just another game’, another piece in the puzzle, as opposed to the hype that has accompanied these two teams meetings in the recent past.
At 35-1 the Cleveland Cavaliers are on course to equal the Boston Celtics’ home record of 40 and 1 set in the ‘85-‘86 season. Such a record is shrouded in a mystical aura, the kind that says that once it has happened once it will never happen again. Yet, despite their critics spouting lack of depth and over reliance on LeBron, here the Cavaliers are, 5 games away from the almost perfect home season. If ever you needed a way to shut the door on Cleveland haters this is surely it: only a truly special team could get even close to this record.
Lengthy undefeated home streaks are rare in basketball. They occur in other sports, especially football, but for an NBA team to achieve such a record is remarkable. Chelsea turned Stamford Bridge into a fortress where they did not lose for nigh on 2 years. However, a team like Chelsea would welcome absolute elite teams 5 or 6 times in a season. Coaches in the NBA would be eager to tell you that there are no easy games in the League and even if you disregard some of the teams’ visits as easy pickings, what about the other 30 games? Just about every team in the NBA is capable of winning on their opponent’s floor. For the Cavs to have registered just one loss is astounding.
Detroit, the fallen master, would dearly love to spoil the party for Cleveland. But beware: anger the Cavaliers at your own risk. Cleveland has the number 1 seed pretty much sewn up, and a loss tonight would drop Detroit to the notorious number 8 spot and even the Pistons with their (wounded) swagger would not fancy a first rounder with the League’s best team with 4 of the potential 7 being played in an arena where King James reigns supreme and pretty much uncontested.
40-1. Special. But ultimately imperfect. And who has the satisfaction of dirtying the otherwise pristine record? KB24. A man with little regard for records and stats. A man who measures success not by 40 and 1 home records, but by the 3 rings on his fingers.
See you in the Finals. You can leave your stats at home.