Justice Is Served

November 13, 2009 6:05 PM

Cavs look like a team that's 'clicking'


The Cavaliers return Saturday night to The Q. They're returning to town to face the Utah Jazz with a cockiness and the tough guy's swagger that seemed to be missing in the first five or six games of their season. 

Winning has a way of putting the strut back into pro athlete's step, and to perform in victory the way the LeBron James, Shaquille O'Neal, Mo Williams and the rest of their gang have done lately is reason enough to predict their early-season troubles were behind them.

In a display that looked like midseason form, they showed offensive versatility during their two-game road trip. 

Coach Mike Brown figured out how to use Shaq, and Brown's decision to start J.J. Hickson over Anderson Varejao was coaching brilliance. It was risky business to bring Varejao off the bench as a sixth man, but Hickson's athleticism complemented Shaq's powerful inside game better than Varejao's does.

Relying on Hickson has given the Cavs a stronger bench, a plus now as they wrestle with how to get along without Delonte West. Oh, the Cavs miss West, and nobody can quite replace him. Hickson gave the offense a new dimension, presenting matchup problems for the Magic and the Heat.

More than anything, he strengthened the defense, always a point of emphasis under Brown. Hickson's youth upped the game's intensity, and because Hickson chipped in with mid-range jumpers, the Heat or the Magic couldn't double-down on LeBron or Shaq. 

A free Shaq inside and a free LeBron everywhere, relatively speaking, are a danger combination, which teams are discovering the hard way. 

Still, it can't be wise now to overpraise Hickson, a raw talent. Besides, his play was a small piece of what had been team effort. 

"A lot of solid performances from a lot of different people," Brown put it after the 111-104 win Thursday night over the Heat. 

He could have used that same comment for the game Wednesday, a win over the Magic.    

Both wins were preludes to a homecoming, a return The Q with two wins over a couple of NBA teams with the same aspiration as LeBron, Shaq, Mo, J.J. and their Cavalier teammates: a title.

"We're clicking now," Shaq said. "We just have to be a little bit more consistent and keep clicking."

On Saturday, they will face another team with title aspirations. Yet it might not matter whom the Cavs meet if their performance duplicates at home what the team did on the road.

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