The Cleveland Cavaliers haven’t quite been carrying themselves like NBA champions lately. But that’s what they are — and no team has earned the title more dramatically either. Last night in Detroit the Cavs reminded everyone, including themselves, of their earned stature by crushing the Pistons with blistering shooting and real defense. The game seemed to do more than jumpstart a team that is 4-6 over their last ten games. It seemed like a moment when the Cavaliers, reconciling their new roster members, injuries and the rest, shifted into playoff gear. Into title-defending gear.
The Pistons had beaten the Cavs just last week in a comeback that showed the Cavs frayed around the edges. This was a different, more purposeful Cavs team — with a mission. The Cavs made 22 of their first 25 shots and built a 27 point lead in the second quarter. LeBron James, who has been vocal about his dissatisfaction, contributed a triple-double (16 points, 11 boards, 12 dimes) in just 28 minutes (a relief). The Cavaliers moved to 44-22, stretching their Eastern Conference lead to 2.5 games over Boston.