As Good As It Gets: Phoenix Suns Face King James and his Cleveland Cavaliers Tonight
Coming to a big screen near you: LeBron James (center in white) and the Cleveland Cavaliers
At first, this blog was going to chronicle the sudden resurgence of the Phoenix Suns, who instilled a little hope with a modest two-game winning streak (hey, they gotta start somewhere) that included an impressive performance against the Detroit Pistons in The Palace. But then Phoenix choked hardcore in Philly Monday night, looking like the, well, very average team that they seem to have officially become.
So instead of rapping about the best well-oiled mess in the NBA and its players who may be on the trading block -- including Amare Stoudemire and Leandro Barbosa (Shaquille O'Neal's even been mentioned) -- this entry's about something better than good. Namely, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who Phoenix faces tonight in Ohio.
As far as we can tell, not one player on the Cavs is going to be dealt before the trade deadline. Why? Because they're freaking superb at the moment, sporting (at the time of writing) the league's second-best record at 39-10. And it's all because of LeBron, arguably the most legitimate candidate to take over Michael Jordan's role as all-time King of the NBA.
The team's leading scorer in most games this season, including a cool 52 against the New York Knicks on February 4, James is dropping 28.2 points per game on fools, good for second place right behind Miami's Dwyane Wade. And even when he's off like he was against the L.A. Lakers on Sunday (16 points on 5-for-20 shooting from the floor), dude still contributes. In the Cavs' loss to Kobe & Co., James was just two boards shy of a triple-double.
Oh, by the way, James also leads Cleveland in rebounds and assists per game. Can somebody say the shit? Only time will tell if he will indeed be as good as or better than MJ.
Cleveland also gets contributions from folks such as swat-master Ben Wallace (1.51 blocks per contest), Mo Williams at the point (17 points per game average), and 7-3 Lithuanian center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who recently returned from a busted ankle that kept him inactive for a month. Off the bench, players include second-year pro Daniel Gibson, who runs the offense for about half of each game, and veteran Wally Szczerbiak, who nailed four three-pointers against the Lakers despite a broken beak.
One piece of bad news occurred Sunday when Sasha Pavlovic, who was subbing for the injured Delonte West as the starting shooting guard, went down with a high ankle sprain that will keep him out for four to six weeks. Szczerbiak will most likely start in place of Pavlovic.
Despite the team's injuries and the fact that the Cavs aren't exactly loaded with the scariest bunch of ballers in the business, the team's elite status indicates that if you solely focus on the NBA's main man, one of these schooled individuals are bound to make you pay.
The Suns tip off against one of the league's best at 5 p.m. at Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena, the ridiculously named stadium where the Cavs are 23-1, their sole loss coming at hands of the Lakers. Local TV: KUTP 45. Radio: KTAR 620-AM.