Is this a different Cavs team?

It’s now 22 games or so into the season, which is more than a quarter of the way through. What does that mean? It means it’s time to dig around the leagues for some trends that might not hold true in the long run, but are sure entertaining to ponder with a decent sample size to back up the theories. Question No. 1 — what’s up with the Cavs?

LeBron's Cavs aren't looking so hot right now.

Cleveland has now lost two in a row after tonight’s 95-85 defeat to the Rockets and sits at 15-7 overall on the season. Not a bad record by any stretch, but this isn’t a team that’s OK with being good. Take a look at this squad. At this point, do you really think they’ve improved enough from last year’s Cleveland team to jump to the next level and knock off an Orlando or a Boston to make it to the Finals? Do they match up with the Lakers (who look every bit the title contender at 17-3 with 10 straight wins)? At 15-7, that’s questionable. It’s good but not great, and good isn’t going to stop a repeat of last year’s scene with LeBron James storming off the floor following the Game 6 loss to the Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals.

With 11.2 points and 6.6 rebounds a game, Shaq is contributing. But considering he put up 17.8 and 8.4 last year, this isn’t exactly the key addition on the stat sheet that Cleveland was looking for. Thus far, the impact has really been in name and buzz alone. LeBron continues to be a star and Mo Williams is a passable secondary scorer at 16.8 points a game, but nothing really jumps out about this team 22 games in. They’ve split their two games against the East’s elite (loss to Boston, win vs. Orlando), but haven’t gotten up for several games against far less talented teams. That could make a difference when we talk home-court advantage later down the road.

Keep an eye out for the Cavs in a few weeks. There’s a stretch at the end of the month when they play the Lakers, the Rockets and the Hawks twice in a span of six days. That should be a decent measuring stick to see exactly where they are.

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