Fighting through injury after injury, the Cleveland Cavaliers are finally finding their stride in the 2023-24 season.
With a statement 121-109 win at home against the reigning NBA champion Denver Nuggets, the Cavaliers won three of their four games this past week. Cleveland overcame a sluggish 4-6 start in their first 10 games and have now earned a winning record since their opening night victory in Brooklyn. Though they have not resolved every issue yet (namely in the turnover department), the Cavs are displaying dynamic offense while maintaining their defensive prowess.
Through 13 games, the Cavaliers are eighth in the Eastern Conference, slowly clawing their way back into the top ranks of the conference. So far, the Cavs have yet to play a single game with their full rotation available. Isaac Okoro did not appear in any action this past week due to knee soreness, and Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland are seemingly trading games to be available and unavailable.
Evan Mobley and Max Strus have been the only two Cleveland starters to play every game this season, which has led to a speedily developing chemistry between the two. Max Strus has assisted Mobley more than any other Cavalier, dishing out 20 assists to Mobley already. As for Mobley, he has assisted Strus 12 times, the second-most on the team. Although the Cavs still need to recoup their health on a consistent basis, the continued presence of Mobley and Strus is a reliable tool in the early season.
Particularly, Mobley looks to be a step above where he was last year. Last season, Mobley recorded 24 double-doubles in 79 games. In 13 games so far, he has already earned nine games with double digit points and rebounds. His improved rebounding has led to a career-high in total rebounds (10.4) and offensive rebounds (3.2). While Mobley’s scoring is not jaw dropping, his mid-range shooting percentage has gone up from 36.4 percent in 2022-23 to 46.7 percent this year.
The chemistry between Mobley and Strus is not the only improvement to Cleveland’s offense this season. It is only an indicator of the tremendous growth the Cavs have displayed. In the offseason, the Cavaliers prioritized 3-point shooting in free agency. Their biggest acquisition was that of Max Strus, followed quickly by the addition of veteran sharpshooter Georges Niang.
Both players established themselves as long range threats throughout their careers, but the Cavs opened the season with poor shooting and lost a number of games due to their inconsistent 3-point shooting. In the past week, however, the Cavaliers shot the ninth-best in the league from deep with 39.8 percent attempts connecting.
Although Cleveland is not shooting from beyond the arc at a league-high volume, their improved ability to make the ones they take has forced defenses to chase the Cavs on the perimeter, allowing for the extra pass to an open man. By selflessly swinging the ball around the court on offense, the Cavaliers are showing a level of versatility that they sorely missed last season.
Not only have the Cavs scored well from outside, but they have reached nearly 60 percent on their 2-point attempts. The improved shooting has instantly opened up the key even more for a team who was already dominant inside the paint. As the Cavs improve their connectivity going forward, their floor spacing will continually help Cleveland take steps forward in the standings. Over a three-game win streak, the Cavaliers are showing the immense talent they have.
Three Cavs have especially impacted the team in the past week, helping Cleveland push through their injury woes.