3 things Cavaliers fans should root for, 2 things they should root against

With the NBA playoffs near, Cleveland Cavaliers fans should hope for this best path toward success.

Boston Celtics v Cleveland Cavaliers
Boston Celtics v Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages

Time is running out for the Cleveland Cavaliers to figure everything out, but thankfully plenty of other Eastern Conference rivals are facing treacherous roads ahead of the playoffs.

For any NBA team from the first seed to the eight seed, a lot of things both under the team's control and outside of it has to go right in order to win it all. Winning the NBA Finals is not a test of luck or pure talent in a single aspect of the game. Every series requires four wins in up to seven tries, testing every team's mentality just as much as the physicality, both individually and as a unit. The Cavaliers have shown they can fight through mental hurdles; however, they have also shown they can build their own obstacles and run into them.

If luck finally swings Cleveland's way this season, the Cavs have enough talent and depth to make a deep run in the postseason, but their unending injuries and nonexistent progression in key areas has created palpable frustration among fans. Donovan Mitchell laid out the situation plainly following a heartbreaking lifeless effort that led to a 29-point loss to the Denver Nuggets. This is not the middle of the season when every team just wants the All-Star break to come. The Cavs are playing April basketball with seven games before the playoffs. There is no excuse.

Regardless of current issues, the whole regular season is a story of triumph for a team facing countless adversities after Evan Mobley's third season and Darius Garland's fifth season were entirely derailed by injuries, halting the development of two young stars. The playoffs will be an opportunity to overcome their setbacks and lean upon each other to rise above the doubts that surfaced after last year's playoff flame out.

In order for the Cleveland Cavaliers to make the postseason push they want, Cavaliers fans should keep an eye on these five scenarios to play out in their favor.

Cavaliers fans should root for Evan Mobley to stay confident from deep

Evan Mobley missing a wide open three-pointer is better than Evan Mobley passing one up, even if he scores inside off of a drive. The Cavs were decimated last postseason on the perimeter for their lack of confidence from deep. While Cleveland's newest additions in Max Strus and Georges Niang, alongside hidden weapon Sam Merrill, have elevated the Cavaliers' floor spacing, they still need more firepower from their starting frontcourt.

Since the All-Star break, Mobley has shot an average 33.3 percent on 1.6 three-point attempts per game. Neither the volume nor the percentage are staggering or life-changing, but the willingness and ability to punish a slacking defender are everything the Cavs needed Mobley to add to his game this year. Mobley has also been more physically aggressive, searching for contact in the post and on drives by dropping his elbow into defenders and scoring through them.

There is no denying that Mobley has not taken the All-Star leap fans hoped to see in his third season. In reality, big player tend to develop more slowly than hyper-athletic guards or wings. His injuries also hampered his growth, but the signs for Mobley are all there. Cavaliers fans should root for "Mobl3y" to stay aggressive, confident and trigger happy in the playoffs.

Cleveland faithful should root against the Orlando Magic and New York Knicks

As the East currently stands through 75 games for Cleveland, the three-seed Cavaliers hold a half-game lead over the four-seed New York Knicks and a one-game lead over the five-seed Orlando Magic. The race for homecourt advantage in the first round is suffocating. After the wildly unpredictable success Cleveland earned from December to February, dropping to the fifth seed and surrendering homecourt advantage would diminish many of their triumphs thus far.

The Knicks and Magic have endured their own poor luck this season, but Cavaliers fans admittedly need to stay selfish here and hope to see an unlucky short stretch for both teams to secure Cleveland's place at third. Cheering against the Knicks is likely ingrained into Cavs fan culture this season, but the reasons to root against New York has shifted.

Homecourt advantage is not the absolute determining factor for success in the playoffs, but the Cavaliers should chase any possible advantage they can find right now.

Darius Garland finding his rhythm should be at the top of every Cavs fan's wish list

Despite Darius Garland's disappointing season, the All-Star guard continues to set himself apart in Cavaliers history. For the Cavs to succeed this season, they need Garland at his best mentally and physically. Similarly to Mobley, much of Garland's regression can be attributed to detrimental injuries; however, Garland had hardly found any rhythm before being sidelined. Darius is a stable of the modern Cavs era, but he has yet to make a name for himself in any postseason match.

When Garland can play within a system and confidently hit shots, the Cavaliers look nearly unbeatable. The best version of Garland not only scores more but also makes every teammate better, too. Garland's uniquely excellent passing and court vision gives his fellow Cavs constant open looks when defenses commit too much help or miss a rotation.

Thankfully for Cavaliers fans, Garland's passing and general consistency has steadily improved over the last handful of game. Though most of this season marked a career high in turnovers per game, Garland has taken care of the ball much better lately. His passing miscues can still happen at horrible moments, but he has also helped teammates get clutch shots off at the perfect time. Garland's high IQ recently shot Evan Mobley a pass for the biggest shot of his young career - a clutch corner three in the final moments of a close game.

The Cavaliers are just better with Garland feeling right. The playoffs will be much more exciting with a confident and healthy DG.

Cleveland fans should root against facing the Boston Celtics in the second round

Dropping from the third seed would not destroy the Cavaliers' season, but it would put them into a much tougher postseason bracket. As the third seed, Cleveland would play the winner of the 2/7 series if they win the first round. As the fourth or fifth seed, the Cavs would most likely run into the NBA's best team in the regular season, the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics are not unbeatable and often lose their composure in the clutch. Cleveland has exploited their fleeting intensity in the fourth quarter with a 22-point comeback headlined by Dean Wade earlier this season. Still, expecting to outpace the league's best squad four times based on one occasional flaw is not a gameplan. Boston has the offensive and defensive versatility to punish nearly every drawback the Cavaliers still have, meanwhile the second-seed Milwaukee Bucks are much less threatening on defense for Cleveland.

No team will look forward to playing the Celtics in the playoffs, and Cavaliers fans should feel the same. Boston has playoff experience and is hungry to break through and win the title after years of coming close but never succeeding. Cleveland would surely enter the series as heavy underdogs, making it everything Cavs fans would hate in a second round contest.

Cavaliers fans should root for more energy on rebounds

If the Cavaliers have a single lingering fatal flaw, it is their inconsistency in the rebounding department. On any given night, Cleveland could have either the best rebounding effort of a generation or display the least amount of interest in boxing out and chasing a miss. Many nights it feels like a coin flip.

In short, the Cavaliers are better not showing up to their playoff games at all if they are willing to be pushed around and not fight back on the boards. As aforementioned, all the talent and capability is in Cleveland's grasp to be an elite and true contender, but the consistent belief in themselves to be that contender is not there. Every game has the potential to be the complete polar opposite from the last, and that often starts with their rebounding numbers.

Through March, the only month in which the Cavs did not record two consecutive wins, Cleveland ranked as the third-worst rebounding averages per game of the NBA. If the Cavaliers want to win, they need to fight for every rebound. Otherwise, the offseason can start tomorrow.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are better than they were last year despite lingering imperfections. Donovan Mitchell has proven himself as a capable leader and one of the best in the league. Cavaliers fans should hope to witness the best of the Cavs in the coming postseason.

Next. 5 doubts Cavaliers have proved wrong this season. 5 doubts Cavaliers have proved wrong this season. dark