Thursday, January 15

Reality-checking with AC

As much as I enjoy Austin Carr's broadcasting, his personality, his malapropisms, his catchphrases that will never catch on ("Delonte! From deep! In the FedEx Forum!"), his joie de vivre, and his love for DiGiorno's pizza, I've gotta call him out on something he said during last night's telecast.

Regarding tonight's upcoming game with the Bulls, he said (slight paraphrase): "That's gonna be a tough one because that's a division game and that team [the Bulls] always play the Cavaliers tough."

Two just glaring errors right there. First off, why would a division game make it any tougher? This is a common, lazy misconception, that intradivision games are somehow more difficult than other ones. This is certainly not true prima facie, as announcers tend to think it is, although I admit that in the case of a particularly tough division (say, the AL East) this might have some merit. However, aside from the Cavs, the Central division is 70-82; take away the Cavalier portion of those games and they're 69-75. The non-Cavalier Central is not a fearsome force, and it being a division game does not make it substantially more or less difficult for the Cavaliers. Furthermore, the Bulls themselves are only 16-22, sporting a home record (12-7) very close to the Cavs' road mark (11-6).

Even more erroneous is AC's odd claim that the Bulls always play the Cavaliers tough. Yeah, we dropped three of four to them last year (this blogger attended the lone W), but this isn't last year. Consider this season's three matchups between the clubs:
11/5 in Cleveland: Cavs 107, Bulls 93
11/8 in Chicago: Cavs 106, Bulls 97
11/5 in Cleveland: Cavs 117, Bulls 92

That's three wins by an average margin of victory of 16 points. No, the Bulls do not always give this version of the Cavs a tough time. Remember the last game between these teams, where Varejao hung 26 on the Bulls, LeBron had a triple-double, and Cleveland totally blew Chicago off the floor?

Now, I'm not saying the Cavs should take Friday's game lightly (I bet if you ask them, they'll say they're taking it one game at a time); pretty much every road game in the NBA is a challenge, and this one is by no means in the bank. However, the ideas that this being a division game makes it tougher, or that the Bulls offer some special matchup challenge for Cleveland are not valid. Sorry, AC, you're still my man.

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