By Sekou Smith
CLEVELAND — The results were what most of us expected, a Cleveland Cavaliers rout in their exhibition opener against Maccabi Tel-Aviv. The Cavaliers’ 107-80 thumping of their visitors from Israel was as convincing as the final score from Sunday night’s game at Quicken Loans Arena suggests.
It was an impressive first step for a Cleveland team that has incorporated shiny new parts (LeBron James, Kevin Love and coach David Blatt, first and foremost) to go along with a young core group that includes Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson in the starting five. Time will tell if the Cavaliers have what it takes to muscle their way through the Eastern Conference and into The Finals in their first season together, the way LeBron and the Miami Heat did during his first season there in 2010-11.
LeBron warned us when he decided to come back home that it would be a process, one that might not produce championship fruit right away.
That said, it’s hard to imagine how this compilation of stars, established and still emerging, doesn’t find its way deep into that championship contender’s realm when the dust settles. From first impressions alone, it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Chicago keeping the Cavaliers from their goal of winning the Eastern Conference.
They have to clear that initial hurdle before we even entertain a discussion about them knocking off the reigning champion San Antonio Spurs — or any one of the handful of teams that could win the Western Conference.
We will get a chance to compare and contrast the goings on for both of the frontrunners in the East; we’re on our way to Chicago now for some all-access time with Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah and the Bulls. We’ll report our findings once we hit the Windy City. In the meantime, we share our reflections from Day 1 of the Hang Time Road Trip in this first installment of the Hang Time Podcast (video version) from the front of the Hang Time Road Trip bus:
Keep up with us around the clock on Twitter or Instagram (using the hashtag #HANGTIME):
- Rick Fox (twitter | instagram)
- Sekou Smith (twitter | instagram)
- Lang Whitaker (twitter | instagram)
Check the Hang Time Blog for our daily (video) podcast recapping our adventures and also Lang’s All-Ball Blog for our daily updates.