In the aftermath of the Cavs six game grindfest against the Chicago Bulls, one thing became abundantly clear to me about this current incarnation of the Cavaliers… these guys are anything but soft. In fact, they may actually be comprised entirely of Cleveland-forged, reinforced sheet metal, held together with rusty nails and covered in the shattered glass shards and detritus from the wreckage of their opponents. Not only does this team bear no resemblance to the sometimes marshmallow-like Cavs playoff teams of yesteryear, they don’t even remotely resemble the relatively soft and slow team they were at the start of the season, which now seems like eons ago.
So far, the crucible of the first post-season appearance for so many of these young Cavaliers (minus LBJ and a few other wily vets) has forged them into a hardened weapon, capable of bludgeoning their adversaries into submission. They have taken an exponential leap in their defensive toughness and intensity, reaching a gear that has propelled them from middle-of-the-pack to the top of the statistical heap amongst playoff contenders.
Yet, it’s more than that. There’s an inner strength that has begun to boil beneath the gritty exterior. A resilience that’s been cultivated over a season of ups and downs, marred with early adversity, spiked with controversy, and more recently threatened by severe injury. A fortitude that’s been built on a foundation of brotherhood and regional pride, stoked by the fires of external doubt and slights, and solidified by an inherent belief in one another and themselves.