It's easy to draw kneejerk conclusions from a blowout over the defending champs in the final week of the regular season. I'm not going to do that. I will give the Cavaliers this: The path to the Larry O'Brien Trophy goes through Cleveland this year, plain and simple.
It's hard to say whether the Celtics are flat-out playing second fiddle to the Cavs now, especially since everyone knows the Celts aren't at full strength and probably won't be until the sometime in their second-round playoff series. Kevin Garnett is expected to chip the rust off in Boston's regular season finale against the Washington Wizards. Even after that, it'll take some time for the Celtics to find the rhythm and cohesiveness that led them to banner No. 17 last June.
I understand there was a reason the Cavs were dancing, strumming air guitars, and mugging for the ABC cameras during a 107-76 evisceration of the Celtics on Sunday afternoon. Not only were they proclaiming their superiority in the East, the Cavs also were celebrating the stranglehold they have on homecourt advantage in the NBA Finals if and when they get there. With their 65th victory of the season, Cleveland would have to lose both of its remaining games and the Lakers would have to win both of theirs for the Cavs to lose their grasp on home court. (If somehow all that happened, the Lakers would get the nod because they were 2-0 against Cleveland this season.) The way the Cavs play at home -- 39-1, for goodness sake -- it would be hard to imagine a more confident team going into a Game 7 against the Lakers in mid-June.
But ... and this is a significant caveat ... the Cavs are better than this. How can you be better than 39-1 at home? For one, you can show class -- not crass. You can show sportsmanship -- not gamesmanship. You can act like you're auditioning for a championship, not "Dancing With The Stars." I want to get LeBron, Mo Williams, and Delonte West in front of Bruno Tonioli for five minutes. They'd never pull stunts like this again.
The Cavs sure looked better than the Celtics on Sunday. A lot better. You can argue that LeBron can do whatever he wants on the bench during the fourth quarter of a blowout he'd so expertly orchestrated. He is the MVP in the league, hands down. His drive to the basket for a 3-point play -- dragging two defenders with him and getting fouled three times -- was awe-inspiring. So was the way he chased down a play from 60 feet and swatted Ray Allen's layup attempt away from the rim. He is an awesome talent at both ends of the floor, and there may very well be no one who can stop him and no team that can stop the Cavs.
But you don't show up the defending champs the way the Cavs did Sunday. You just don't. You celebrate when the season is over and when you are holding the gold-plated trophy on your home court. Not on the last Sunday of the regular season, in the midst of an eminently meaningless regular season game.
The Celtics will remember this. As to whether they're good enough to do anything about it, only time will tell. But I don't like it one bit. One of these days, somebody is going to take that air guitar and smash it over LeBron's head.