Win #1

Damn. They’re going to be good.

I just spent a couple hours watching LeBron put on one of the craziest shooting displays you’ll ever see. Watching Larry Hughes collect six assists, one on a smooth first-quarter alley oop to LBJ. Watching Z score eight quick points in the first quarter while pulling down seven boards. Watching Donyell Marshall and Damon Jones, two of the team’s “secondary” signings following the Hughes acquisition, score 30 combined points, hit 5 threes and add 12 rebounds (9 by Marshall).

And I’m stumped.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been watching and listening to a bunch of NBA know-it-alls contend that the Cavaliers would have a very good yearbut would still finish fourth in the East, behind Miami, Detroit and Indiana. In the weeks leading up to start of the season, I really started wondering if I was missing something. Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Eric Snow, Damon Jones, Drew Gooden, Donyell Marshall, Larry Huges.

Alone, that starting five could contend for the final playoff spot in either league. But then you add a 20-year-old kid who looks a hell of a lot like the best all-round player on the planet? I’m sorry, but that team can play with anybody.

Dominant center? Check. (Well, scoring center, anyway.) Tough rebounding? Z, Gooden and Marshall had 7, 8 and 9 rebounds, respectively. Inside scoring? Pick your poison. Outside? How many threes tonight? Thirteen. In 21 attempts. That’s 62%. Defense? Well…that’s one of the reasons Mike Brown’s here, and the D looked better tonight. At the very least, this team’s going to create turnovers and a ton of fastbreak points.

Best player in the game? I think we’ve got that too.

So, someone please tell me why this team can’t at least be as good as Indiana. I’ve heard that it’ll take them a while to develop some team chemistry. I almost had some high school Bunsen Burner flashbacks watching these guys play together tonight. And name one player on the Pacers, or even the Pistons, that can take over a game the way LeBron can.

Ron Artest? He’s a beast, and a bit insane, but he can’t make as many things happen on the offensive side of the court to make him the dominant end-game player that LeBron can be. The reason: When James has the ball in his hands, he can beat you off the dribble, passing it, or shooting it. Artest usually needs someone to get him the ball to make something happen. That’s a big difference, I don’t care what kind of defensive freak you are.

Richard Hamilton? Not nearly physical enough and doesn’t do much else but score.

Chauncey Billups? He’s definitely the closest of this trio, with his ability to score, pass and shoot, but he doesn’t quite stack up to LBJ because he’s not a big rebounder.

The Heat, of course, have Shaq and Wade, and while I’d rather have LeBron than anyone else in the league right now (considering factors like age and health), Miami is deservedly the favorite in the East.

The Cavaliers, meanwhile, appear to have everything, including a deep roster. It may be too much to overcome the Pistons this year, but the Cavs will finish the season ahead of the Pacers . I know, it’s only one game. Trust me, I’m not calling for a Finals run just yet. But it could happen soon. Real soon. As for this year? I’m thinking 55-plus wins, a couple All Stars, miles of highlight-reel footage, and maybe even an MVP award.

Oh, and the #3 seed in the East.

You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook for content updates.