In case you missed it -- and six games into the season, you probably did -- the team in first place in the Central Division Sunday morning is the same team that has been there much of the last few years. The LeBron-less Cleveland Cavaliers.
At 3-3, it's not exactly a commanding lead. But the Cavs have shown something on the road the last two nights that makes you believe this isn't a lost season. The rebirth of Boobie Gibson was never more evident than it was on this trip and Mo Williams can dominate against lesser competition.
Sixers coach Doug Collins pointed it out after Friday's game, when Gibson and Williams dominated down the stretch. Byron Scott has said it all year. The Cavs' strength lies in their guard play, particularly Williams, Gibson, Anthony Parker and Ramon Sessions.
Williams, Gibson and Parker played extensively together in the fourth quarter and played well. That trio won't always work, but the Sixers and Wizards both have smaller lineups -- the Wizards used a three-guard set in the fourth quarter that coach Flip Saunders admitted after the game was a mistake.
The loser in that design is Jamario Moon, who barely played in the fourth quarter on this trip. He sat the entire fourth quarter tonight and played just 1:28 in the fourth against the Sixers. But Scott will probably stick with Williams, Gibson and Parker late in games until teams find ways to stop it.
Like Gibson said after the game, it's taxing on opposing guards to have to chase both he and Williams around defensively, then expect to come back and be productive on offense.
For now, the Cavs are 3-3 with more winnable games lining up against the Nets, Pacers and Sixers. And they're in first place, no matter how slim the lead. That's something no one would've expected two weeks ago.
* In the two games Williams has started, Scott has played him for 9-10 minutes in the third quarter, then sat him in favor of Ramon Sessions for the first half of the fourth quarter. Williams has entered for the final 6-7 minutes of the fourth quarter and was terrific both nights.
* His line from the fourth quarter tonight: 12 points (3 of 4 shooting) and just one turnover. He had eight points, three assists and no turnovers in the fourth quarter against the Sixers, giving him a combined 20 points and one turnover.
* Similarly, Gibson's role the last two nights has been nearly identical. He has played the final 5-6 minutes of the third quarter, then played the entire fourth quarter. In the fourth quarter the last two nights, Gibson has scored a combined 23 points (6 of 8 shooting).
- 2013 (149)
- 2012 (345)
- 2011 (275)
- 2010 (471)
- 2009 (188)
- 2008 (125)
- 2007 (164)
- 2006 (83)
- 2005 (24)