Cavaliers locking up home court brings some piece of mind

Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /

On March 26, the Cleveland Cavaliers checked something off their list in what was a long time coming for the team. On that night, Cleveland defeated the Houston Rockets, which was then their 48th win of the season, and most importantly, clinched a playoff berth.

As a result, the Cavaliers are going to be back in the playoffs for the first time since 2018, and this will mark the first time Cleveland will have made the playoffs without LeBron James on the team since 1998.

Now, there has been a bit of slippage in the chunk of games since that point, objectively. Cleveland would lose their next two contests following that win over Houston, a bottom-dwelling team, and the past two games were not easy wins over the Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic, both teams now out of contention for the Play-In Tournament.

Playing youthful teams that are going to work every possession through 48 minutes is not necessarily something to gloss over, though. Indiana and Orlando did that, for the most part, to their credit, and Cleveland had to respond.

Fortunately, the Cavs were able to land victories in those outings, and in Orlando, it was anything but a simple W. Orlando is, similarly, a very young team, and the Magic have been playing much better of late, and with all the injuries they’ve endured this season, they’ve done a fine job, and even more so as they’ve gotten healthier.

The Cavaliers were able to land a W in Orlando on Tuesday, though, as we noted, by a score of 117-113, and some clutch defensive plays down the stretch from Jarrett Allen were key there, and the Cavs stayed the course defensively.

Despite a couple of turnovers in the closing moments, Cleveland’s ball movement did help the team get the job done for stretches as well, and of course, mixed in was some sensational scoring and shot-making from one Donovan Mitchell. He’s been on a truly different level recently, and he just had his fourth 40-point game on Tuesday, the first time that’s been done in the NBA since James Harden in 2018-19 (via Cavs Notes).

Again, these recent games haven’t been easy for the Cavaliers, but fans of the Wine and Gold can exhale somewhat, which is a relief. After their last win, the Cavaliers locked up home court, as the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference, and they hit 50 wins in a season for the 12th time in team history.

Cleveland will likely face off against the New York Knicks, which is not going to be easy, either. Having said that, even with the Philadelphia 76ers shutting the door on Cleveland potentially having a chance at the No. 3 seed with their win on Tuesday, the Cavs at least securing the No. 4 seed can bring some peace of mind.

It was crucial for the Cavaliers to eventually lock up home court advantage for the first round.

This is an exciting time to be a Cavs fan. The squad is going to be back in the playoffs, and this is obviously a different era of Wine and Gold hoops, sans LeBron.

Turning the page, now, though, it was crucial for the Cavaliers to get home court advantage in their first-round series, again likely against the Knicks. Cleveland has been inconsistent on the road this season, and while it’s going to be a challenge likely against a New York team that has beaten them three out of four times in the regular season, having home court advantage is meaningful.

Now, of course, this Cavaliers team is not going to be one filled with players with an abundance of playoff experience aside from Donovan Mitchell, who made the playoffs each of his five seasons with the Utah Jazz. Others in Jarrett Allen, Ricky Rubio and Caris LeVert are others in realistically meaningful roles that have had some legit exposure to that as well, but this is still a largely young Cavs team, and Darius Garland and Evan Mobley are 23, and 21, respectively.

However, the Cavaliers are a club that should be a confident group heading into the postseason, and even with the inexperience with that setting, it was a plus to begin a potential deep playoff run with home court advantage.

Cleveland has been 31-9 at home this season, compared to 18-21 on the road. For a group that is young at its core, it was nice to be able to lock up the No. 4 seed.

In the mean time, the Cavs have two more regular season games to close that out, with Thursday being at Orlando again and Sunday the team hosting the Charlotte Hornets.

For the Wine and Gold, this last victory again marked their 50th win of the 2022-23 regular season, which is not too shabby. But looking onward, it would definitely be big for Isaac Okoro to be able to go for the playoffs. He’s missed the past four games due to knee soreness, and it’s not reportedly a certainty if he’ll be good to go for the first round, feasibly against Jalen Brunson and the Knicks, who will almost surely be Cleveland’s first round opponent.

Next. 4 most important Cavs in playoffs not named Donovan Mitchell. dark

Rest assured, though, come the playoffs, Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse is going to be rockin’ (pun not intended).