When LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat, it sent the Cavs into a total freefall. They went from being on national television seemingly every other night to a lottery team literally overnight. The one benefit of becoming a lottery team is that it allowed the Cavs to get both the no.1 pick and the no.4 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. Those two picks turned into Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson. Both of them would become integral parts of the Cavs 3-1 comeback against the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals. After making the NBA Finals four consecutive seasons (2015-2018), LeBron left to join the LA Lakers, which once again sent the Cavs into a freefall.
However, this version of the Cavs rebuild wasn’t resulting in consistently getting the no.1 overall pick. But we were still getting top-5 picks resulting in Darius Garland, Issac Okoro, and Evan Mobley in consecutive years. These three draft picks along with other roster moves, which at the time made absolutely no sense, have resulted in the Cavs magically climbing up the standings ladder to become a top 6 team in the Eastern Conference.
Being in the top 6 means that the Cavaliers would avoid the play-in tournament (which is basically just a participation trophy) and qualify for the playoffs. So, with that being the case how deep of a playoff run do the Cavaliers have to make to consider this a successful season?
This is a tricky question to answer especially considering the fact that again nobody saw this coming from the Cavs. But considering where they now sit in the Eastern Conference standings, people are now going to expect them to do some damage once they qualify. At the time this article was written, the Cavaliers are #3 in the East with a record of 35-22 after falling to the Philadelphia 76ers 103-93 on Saturday February 12th in Philly. If the playoffs started today, the Cavs would be matched up with Jason Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and the Boston Celtics. At the time this article was written, the Celtics are #6 in the East with a record of 33-25 after defeating the Atlanta Hawks 105-95 on Super Bowl Sunday in Boston.
Despite the Cavaliers being the #3 seed and the Celtics being the #6 seed, my guess it's possible that Boston could be favored to win. So, if the Cavs lose in the first round, does that make this season a failure? In my mind, not by any means! It would still make the season a success because again, who projected the Cavs to be a playoff team this season? Very few people if anyone. This was supposed to be another 20-30 season that resulted in another lottery pick. The Cavaliers appear to be destined for a playoff spot in the top 6. So sit back and enjoy the ride! The future is bright in THE LAND!
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