Written by Erik Cassano

Erik Cassano
Erik Cassano has done a great job reliving the ten greatest Cleveland sports moments of 2008 for us, and we'll be counting down to #1 this week as we head into the new year. Checking in at #3 is the historically prolific start to the season for our Cleveland Cavaliers, who now sit at 26-4 and are looking like world beaters, night in and night out. Also, events #10-#4 are linked inside. Enjoy! Author's note: As an act to follow, 2007 was pretty tough. An NBA Finals appearance by the Cavs, an ALCS appearance by the Indians, a 10-6 Browns team that narrowly missed the playoffs and C.C. Sabathia winning the Indians' first Cy Young Award since 1972.

The sports year 2008 was bound to pale by comparison for Cleveland fans.  On many levels it did. The Indians stumbled out of the gate in April. Injuries and a dud of a bullpen rendered the season a lost cause by midsummer, at which point Sabathia and Casey Blake were shipped off in a mini-fire sale reminiscent of 2006.

The Cavs followed up their Finals appearance with a season marred by holdouts, injuries and upheaval, as half the roster was reconstructed at the trading deadline. The '07-'08 season came to an end with a Game 7, second round loss to the Celtics.

The Browns were the most disappointing team of all. A season that began with so much promise will end with the entire organization on the fast track to another smack of the reset button.

But 2008 did manage to make its own sports headlines in Cleveland, and believe it or not, a number of them were positive. Over the coming days, our top 10 Cleveland sports moments will be revealed here on the front page of The Cleveland Fan.  We hope you enjoy reliving them.

The Top Ten 2008 Cleveland Sports Moments: #10 - #7

The Top Ten 2008 Cleveland Sports Moments: #6 - #4

3. Cavs romp to franchise-best start


With a Christmas night come-from-behind win over the Wizards, the 2008-09 Cavaliers surpassed the 1988-89 Cavs for the best start through 29 games in team history. At 25-4 heading into Sunday's showdown with the Heat, the Cavs are on pace to win more than 70 games as the season's second month draws to a close.

While a 70-win season is rather unrealistic to expect, this edition of the Cavs appears capable of netting the franchise's first-ever 60-win season . Armed with a superstar leader in LeBron James, a heady veteran supporting cast and a potent team-oriented attack at both ends of the floor, the Cavs have been one of the league's three best teams virtually all season.

Perhaps the most impressive fact about the Cavs start is their record after three games, when they stood at 1-2 following tough road losses at Boston and New Orleans. It looked like the Cavs would stumble out of the gate as players struggled to define their roles. But in the fourth game of the season, the Cavs travelled to Dallas, demolished the Mavericks 100-81, and haven't looked back.

The win in Dallas ignited an eight-game winning streak that was ended by a Nov. 19 loss in Detroit in which the Cavs couldn't protect a second-half lead. Losses after large winning streaks are always gut-check moments in the world of sports, as a team must figure out how to deal with adversity after a long period of smooth sailing. The Cavs passed the test with flying colors, routing Atlanta in the very next game and sparking a franchise record-tying 11-game winning streak that ended against the Hawks on Dec. 13.

After that loss, the Cavs rattled off five straight wins through Christmas, including a convincing win in Denver against the first-place Nuggets and a home win against the Rockets.

The schedule toughens considerably in January, with games against the Celtics, Hornets, Lakers, Blazers, Jazz and Magic - the final four on the road. The Cavs' record might not look nearly as pristine a month from now. But this is a team that should still be sniffing 50 wins by the end of February if the roster remains mostly healthy. If that is the case, these Cavs could surpass the twice-achieved franchise record of 57 wins before April 1.