It’s been said over and over again throughout the 2021-2022 regular season campaign: The Cavs are the biggest surprise in the NBA. At best, the team was expected to compete for a spot in the Play-In Tournament come April. Their projected win total at the start of the season was set at 27.5 by the oddsmakers. The Wine and Golders secured win No. 28 on Jan. 22nd against the Thunder.
Since the calendar flipped to 2022, it’s no secret the Cavs have been the talk of the CLE in the sports world. With the Browns season ending in disappointment, and MLB being involved in a lockout, Cleveland’s basketball team has given the loyal fans of Cleveland hope. This Cavs team in April will become the first team since Owner Dan Gilbert bought the team in 2005 to make the playoffs without The Kid From Akron on its roster.
When the season began, nobody would have thought that on March 1st, 2022, the Cavs would be sitting 11 games above the .500 mark and 4.5 games out of the top seed in the Eastern Conference, but they are, and it’s time to start treating the Cavs like a legitimate playoff team. What the Cavs do should no longer WOW the residents of the 216. Cleveland fans should expect the team to win each and every night.
On the All Things CAVS podcast, Joey Scheider and I have been preaching for weeks this Cavs team is different. A team doesn’t keep winning games out of pure surprise and luck. They have the talent to win, and they believe every time they step out onto the court that they have the best team on the floor. In January, they picked up two huge home wins over the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks, both of whom are considered title contenders this postseason.
February though was a different story. The NBA presented the Cavs with a favorable schedule the team needed to take advantage of, considering the gauntlet of a schedule that is coming over the next 31 days in March. Unfortunately, the Cavs didn’t do their job and will finish the month 5-5. Two out of those four losses were to Detroit and Houston, two of the worst three teams record wise in the whole Association. Four out of the five wins (Charlotte, Washington and two against Indiana) were close contests throughout, and the Cavs had to come from behind in the fourth quarter to win those games when they should have had control throughout the ballgame.
Yes, the Cavs have dealt with injuries. Lauri Markkanen missed most of the month with a sprained ankle. All-Star Darius Garland has been in and out of the lineup with a back injury. Caris LeVert suffered a sprained foot right after the All-Star break. Rajon Rondo is dealing with a sprained toe.
However, injuries are a part of the game. Only being down to Brandon Goodwin and Tim Frazier at the point guard spot is not ideal right now, but this is when the good teams find a way to win games, even when they are shorthanded. The Cavs did so Saturday night, defeating the Wizards 92-86. It wasn’t an easy victory, but they got the job done.
March is when the great teams separate themselves from the good ones. Most NBA teams aren’t comprised of the “Big Three” model anymore. Teams either have one or two superstars, one or two stars, and the rest is filled with solid role players. The Cavs have a superstar in Garland. They have a star in Jarrett Allen. They have the front runner for sixth man of the year in Kevin Love, and the leading candidate for rookie of the year in Evan Mobley.
Expectations have changed for the basketball team over at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. The Wine and Golders are legitimate playoff contenders. They’re out of the honeymoon phase.
Every game matters from here on out until the team is cleaning out their lockers at the end of the season. Whether that locker clean out is in April, May or June is yet to be seen, but the team is no longer surprising the Association.
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