Can the Cleveland Cavaliers make the playoffs?
Since LeBron James elected to join the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency a few years ago, the Cleveland Cavaliers have been somewhat of an afterthought in the Eastern Conference. In fact, the only time they were in the news-cycle was when there was a Kevin Love rumor.
Now, though, it’s possibly time to take this team seriously. Through roughly the first quarter of the season, the Cavs are 8-7 and sitting in the fifth seed in the East. Collin Sexton appears to have made the leap to stardom and is averaging 27 points and four assists on 52 percent shooting from the field and 47 percent shooting from 3-point range.
Andre Drummond has been a great contributor, averaging 19 points and 15 rebounds per game. What has been most impressive, though, has been this team’s work on the defensive end. The Cavs have the second-best defensive rating.
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If there are any concerns about this team and their ability to maintain this level of play throughout the season, it’ll come on the offensive end. Cleveland is the 28th ranked offense and needs to be more efficient on that end of the floor if this team is going to be a playoff team.
Looking at the Eastern Conference objectively, the Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers, and Boston Celtics are likely locks to make the playoffs. You could probably throw in the Miami Heat (when they get healthy) and Atlanta Hawks as two other likely playoff teams.
That leaves the likes of the New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls, Orlando Magic, Toronto Raptors, and Cleveland Cavaliers to fight for that final playoff spot. At the moment, the Cavs are winning that race. And are doing it without Kevin Love in the lineup. That is impressive and tells you all you need to know about how talented this team is.
I’m not sure if their “start” to the season is sustainable, but this is no longer just a fast start to the year. The Cavs have played 15 games and that’s a strong sample size. They’ve also beaten the new-look Nets in back-to-back games.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are on the rise in the Eastern Conference and might be a year or two ahead of schedule. Many believed that this was a team that could potentially make the playoffs next season or the year after, but this is a team that might be ready to make a move in the East this season.