How good are the Cavaliers?

According to John Hollinger in his ESPN insider article, the Bulls will be better the rest of the season and the Cavaliers are….

“Take a good look at the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers right now. If you focus on results, they look almost exactly the same — the Bulls are 16-12, the Cavs 15-11. If you focus on the process, however, one is among the best teams in the league, and the other is merely average.”

Of Cleveland’s 26 games, 16 have been played against teams with losing records. Only seven of the Cavs’ first 26 games have been against the vastly superior Western Conference, including only one against the five West teams with the best records. Additionally, 15 of the 26 games have been at home.

According to USA Today’s Jeff Sagarin, the Cavs have played the second-easiest schedule in the league.

If the Bulls are playing like a 56-win team and the Cavs are playing more like a 41-win team, which one’s odds do you like better the rest of the way? If the teams’ quality of play remains the same, history tells us their records will start to diverge really fast.

This, in fact, is precisely what happened a year ago when two teams — the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks — hit the 25-game mark with identical 15-10 records. By the end of the season, the Suns finished with 54 wins, the Bucks only 40. It’s easy to say in retrospect that of course the Suns were the better team, but look back at what was being written at the time and you’ll see it wasn’t a unanimous opinion.