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CLEVELAND — LeBron James is apparently feeling much better about the Cavaliers and their progress lately.
“If it started tomorrow, we’d be ready to go,” he said after the Cavs’ 112-103 win over the visiting Hornets on Sunday.
James, of course, was referring to the playoffs. He uttered similar sentiments last week, when he promised the Cavs “will be prepared” when the playoffs arrive in a little more than a week.
He has a valid argument.
Before beating the Hornets, the Cavs won in overtime against the Hawks on Friday. Both opponents had the third-best record in the Eastern Conference entering their game vs. the Cavs. Both opponents exited with something less.
The Cavs, meanwhile, own the top spot in the East at 55-22. That gives them an advantage of 3.5 games over the second-seeded Raptors, with five games to go.
And that means the “magic number” is three — so if the Cavs win three more, or the Raptors lose three more, the Cavs get home-court throughout the East postseason. There are a few other combinations in there, but you get the idea. The Cavs are in good shape.
But it doesn’t take magic to see LeBron is feeling good about the way the Cavs have overtaken some potential playoff threats.
They’ve surpassed last season’s win total of 53, and with a home record of 32-7, also topped last season’s 31-10 record at The Q.
“We’ve played against some really good teams that’s been hot as of late,” James said. “For us to even have the energy the way we played today and go out and execute the way we did, it’s exceptional basketball.”
On Sunday, James finished with 31 points, 12 assists, eight rebounds and multiple examples of championship leadership.
Kevin Love went for 25 points and nine boards, and J.R. Smith went for 27 points on 10-of-16 shooting. Along with that, Matthew Dellavedova did an outstanding job of filling in for the injured Kyrie Irving (ankle) by keeping the ball moving and finishing with nine assists.
Those numbers and more probably explain why James is talking confidently.
But another playoff-like stretch awaits. The Cavs visit the Bucks on Tuesday, then play at the Pacers the next night, before staying on the road to meet the Bulls on Saturday.
Like the Hawks and Hornets, the Pacers and Bulls are jostling for playoff position. Unlike the Hawks and Hornets, the Pacers and Bulls are just trying to get in.
So both the Pacers and Bulls will be at home and fighting for their postseason lives.
Ready for the playoffs?
Well, it’s safe to say James and the Cavs will get more chances to prove it still.