If you want to win a championship, you’d better learn how to bring it on the road.
That’s something LeBron James knows, and after last season’s run to the Finals, something coach David Blatt and the rest of the Cavaliers seem to understand, too.
For instance, the Cavs went 6-1 away from home in Eastern Conference playoff games last year. Guess what they were at home? You got it: 6-1.
So they found that sometimes, in order to play on the biggest stage, you can’t just steal one or two road games. They found that you have to play well everywhere.
Now, the Cavs are getting another opportunity to come together in arenas that don’t go by "The Q." It’s true, as seven of the next eight are on the road — beginning Wednesday at Washington.
It’s an interesting time for the Cavs (23-9), for sure. They’re 15-1 at home and 8-8 on the road. Their lone home loss came to . . . drumroll, please . . . the Wizards. It wasn’t even close, either. The Wizards burst to a 10-0 lead and never looked back.
So it’s safe to say the Cavs owe one to the Wiz.
There’s more. Remember, one of the next eight is indeed at home. But guess who comes to Cleveland for that game? You guessed it . . . drumroll, please . . . Steph Curry, Draymond Green and defending champion Golden State.
It’s also safe to say the Cavs owe one (or actually about four) to the Warriors.
But back to the road games.
During this stretch, the Cavs also get to face former No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins and Minnesota. That, of course, is the same Wiggins who was shipped to the Timberwolves in the trade for Kevin Love.
Wiggins admittedly always gets fired up to play the Cavs. And Love wasn’t exactly cheered in his first return to Minnesota.
After that, it’s off to Philadelphia, which should be an easy one, but it really never turns out that way. Like everyone else, the young and struggling 76ers often seem to save their best for the Cavs.
That’s followed by a three-game swing to Texas, and you know the names: Tim Duncan and San Antonio, James Harden and Houston, Dirk Nowitzki and Dallas. Two of those guys (Duncan and Nowitzki) have won titles vs. James’ teams. And Harden’s Rockets beat the visiting Cavs last regular season after James missed a pair of late free throws.
So it’s safe to say LeBron and the Cavs owe Texas one, too.
Mostly, again, the road is where championship teams are made. This is a chance for the Cavs to bond, to stare down the boo birds, to show the NBA they are who they think they are.
Kyrie Irving is back. James, Love, Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith are still here. Matthew Dellavedova, Iman Shumpert and (now) Timofey Mozgov continue to do their thing in reserve. Blatt is finding a way to juggle all this talent as the Cavs begin to rediscover their rhythm.
Now, they get to do it all while bouncing from city to city.
This is the road. This where the Cavs can really bring it. This is where you learn how to get it done for later, when winning on the road means the most.