The Cleveland Cavaliers look to be heating up, or at least they did while winning two in a row in L.A. Will their season be remembered for the bowling round that turned everything around?
Because we know they are talented enough to make a run at everybody in the East, though it will be near impossible to catch the red-hot 32-8 Atlanta Hawks at this point.
But maybe everyone else is in reach for the LeBron James-led team that is – for now – the sixth best team in the Eastern Conference 11 and a half games behind Atlanta.
- LeBron, Cavs get surprise bowling party instead of practice
- Hakeem says Jordan was 'far superior' to LeBron
- LeBron returns to Miami ... for rehab
What has changed?
Oddly enough, the trade sending Dion Waiters out of Cleveland might have been the best thing for both the Cavaliers and the Thunder. Waiters' sometimes errant shooting was getting overrated in Cleveland and he fits in better as a shooter in Oklahoma City, benefiting from Russell Westbrook's ability to create shots for everyone else.
Kyrie Irving is a heck of a player, showing it with 37 points in Friday's 126-121 win over the Clippers, but he creates as many shots for himself as others. And LeBron will get his with 32 in the win.
It was center Tristan Thompson who came into his own against the Clippers, with a career-high 24 points to go with 12 rebounds while playing in Kevin Love's spot.
Love was sitting with a sore back.
"Last night Kevin playing the way what he played through, and then tonight Double-T stepping up in his absence, you need those moments in an NBA season," James said.
The Cavaliers can again be thankful they are in the East instead of the West, where they wouldn't even hold a playoff spot behind eighth-seeded Phoenix right now.
The Cavs now get a few days off before hosting the Bulls on Monday night. They have Utah and Charlotte on the schedule to close out the week and both should be two very winnable games before matchups with three tough teams in Oklahoma City, Detroit and Portland.
No matter where they're at in the standings, teams will be gunning for Cleveland on a nightly basis. They won't sit starters and they'll be as focused as any game they play, because they know these are games people will be following closely.
This week is as important of a time as any for the Cavs to make a run and string together some wins. Now, let's see if they can do it.