Two-faced Cavs

Losing-streak aside, the Cavs will be a tough team if Lucious Harris starts playing like he can and Traylor keeps bringing attitude and hustle to the floor.

Harris may have thrown a donut on the board against the Spurs but he made some clutch shots in that agonizing loss to the Nets Saturday. If he picks up his game, a guy like Jiri Welsh then becomes icing on the cake, just someone who strengthens your bench instead of (hopefully) becoming a dependable guy playing a lot of minutes as the “offensive alternative” to Ira Newble. Maybe Lucious Harris could be that guy. That is, after all, why the Cavs got him in the first place.

Tractor played a big role against the Nets too, notching a couple key blocks and some critical rebounds while giving the kind of all-out effort you wish Drew Gooden could deliver consistently. Traylor just hustles, and I have to give it up to Paul Silas for bringing him in last offseason. I wasn?t a big fan of the move but Tractor has really flourished under Silas? tutelage. He?s obviously not someone you can depend on night-in and night-out, but he always shows up to play, even if the stats aren?t all that impressive at the end of the game.

As for LeBron, there are times he can do no wrong. He’s the man. He shoots when he should shoot, passes when he should pass, inhales loose balls and establishes that he’s the best player on the floor. That?s the LeBron that took control of the second and third quarters tonight against the Sonics. Other times, what he’s doing doesn’t work so he responds by trying to do too much. That?s who showed up against the Spurs, hitting just six of 22 shots in the Cavs? two-point loss. But the thing you?ve gotta love about LeBron is, he can go from ?too much? to Mr. Dominant in one quick trip down the floor, offensively or even defensively.

This Jekyll/Hyde routine is very representative of the Cavs as a team. If you watched that Nets game, you saw their dichotomy: a team that underachieves at times, getting down by as many as 21 in the second half, and then a team that hustles, plays aggressively and accomplishes the things it wants to accomplish, tying up the game with eight minutes to go. Sure, they fell seven points short, but for a while there everything was clicking: Z was dominating, LeBron was making things happen, McInnis was running the show, Gooden was making hustle plays. It was a glimpse of what could be come playoff time.

If they head into the postseason (assuming they make it) playing the good side of that dichotomy, they’ll be dangerous, a young team ready to make the jump. If they can start playing like that now, secure home-court advantage and then head into the playoffs playing like that, they could even find themselves in the finals. The Eastern Conference Finals, anyway.

But if they go into a first-round match-up as the underachievers, they?ll get bounced early, a young team that wasn?t ready. Here?s hoping its scenario #1.

(By the way, don’t underestimate the acquisition of Vince Carter — he makes the Nets very good, regardless of how you feel about his admission that he didn’t always play hard in Toronto because he was unhappy. He’s playing some good ball now, and that’s all that matters to the Nets. And the rest of the East.)

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