1 obvious, 1 subtle move J.B. Bickerstaff must make to turn Cavaliers into contenders

Sacramento Kings v Cleveland Cavaliers
Sacramento Kings v Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages
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The time for the Cleveland Cavaliers to distinguish themselves beyond being just a good team is now as the season winds down and playoffs approach.

In seven games since the All-Star break, the Cavaliers sit 3-4 and have fallen back down to the third seed in the Eastern Conference. While not in a dire sink-or-swim situation, the Cavs are losing their momentum after a history stretch throughout December to February. The offense has grown cold, often only inconsistently reclaiming the fluidity and versatility it displayed for most of the season. Darius Garland and Evan Mobley helped Cleveland win in stretches before the All-Star weekend upon their return, so the problem does not lie in the two young stars' fit on the team.

The postseason will be a brutal test for the Cavaliers, but adjusting in this final stretch will give them a chance to be true contenders and defeat the looming narrative that arose after last year's decimation at the hands of the New York Knicks. Currently, though, Cleveland struggles to show the same edge they need to make that jump. In their three most recent wins, they have all come in dramatic fashion, including a game in which the Cavs nearly squandered a 26-point lead to the historically-bad Detroit Pistons.

With Donovan Mitchell's recent injury, the superstar guard will be absent for at least three more games for the Cavs. His earliest return would come with fewer than 20 games left in the regular season, meaning the Cavaliers will need to rely upon Garland to steer the offense back to greatness. In the 2021-22 season, Garland guided the Cavs to the franchise's first ever Play-In Tournament appearance, though they fell short in two consecutive games and missed the playoffs. With one-and-a-half more years and a playoff stint under his belt, Garland should have the capacity to will the Cavs to a few more wins before the end of game 82.

If Cleveland hopes to regain their strength before the postseason, it will be up to head coach J.B. Bickerstaff to show the ingenuity and creativity that helped the Cavs climb from the Play-In to the second seed in the East in December and January. As a veteran NBA coach, he is undoubtedly aware of the problems the Cavaliers have. Nothing stated here is a shock to Bickerstaff, but one obvious change and one subtle change may be the key to reigniting the Cavs into true contenders this postseason.