The Big Picture: Cavs cruising into first playoff berth in five years

Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)
Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports) /
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One of the best stories in the NBA over the past two seasons, has been about the Cleveland Cavaliers. I believe part of the story stems from the team coming out of the shadow of current basketball star LeBron James, who, for a long time was the face of this franchise.

But over the last two seasons, the Cavaliers have created their own identity, one that includes a group of young stars on the rise. Those stars include Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, and Evan Mobley. This group was able to add a fourth member in Donovan Mitchell, who was traded for this past offseason from the Utah Jazz.

If you look at the big picture of where the Wine and Gold are at this moment in time, you have to smile because all signs continue to point up. There will be hiccups, highs and lows, rough moments and struggles, but overall, the team is moving forward and improving.

Let’s look at a few things about this team that have Cavaliers fans excited to see what happens next.

The Cavs are contenders, not pretenders.

The Cavaliers are truly contenders this season. They sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. They have been in that position for a while, though the New York Knicks have been playing very well recently, and potentially could catch the Cavs if they falter a game or two. However, unlike a year ago, where Cleveland started sputtering in February, and finished with a record of 44-38 and out of the playoffs, this year they are currently 42-26 and have won the last three in a row.

Cleveland is now playing for a playoff series where they have the homecourt advantage, and with their young core leading the way there is a lot to look forward to. The Cavs last hosted a playoff series back in 2018 when LeBron was still playing with the team. If this current squad can keep winning down the stretch, Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse will be on fire when that series begins, and it could carry them into their next playoff series.

As mentioned previously, the Knicks are gaining ground on the Cavs, but either way it’s looking more and more like these two teams may battle it out in that first round, and Cleveland could definitely use the homecourt advantage.

The fact that we are just talking about the Cavs being in a playoff series and being the fourth seed is truly excellent news for the future of this franchise.

This team will continue to be led by not only the youthful core of Garland, Mobley and Allen but most importantly, at this time of the year, Mitchell. Mitchell has been outstanding all season long and has taken on that leadership role that you need to be a successful basketball team. Considering that Mitchell has gone off for a 71-point performance already this season and has had multiple games scoring 40 points or more, you never know how far that can carry you in a playoff series.