Cavaliers' 1st Quarter Report Card is better than they deserve

And they have been given a generous grade...

Toronto Raptors v Cleveland Cavaliers
Toronto Raptors v Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages
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Well, 1st Quarter Grades are in! Just like maybe your child’s 1st Quarter Report Card, there is room for improvement for the Cavaliers. The Bleacher Report has given their grades for each NBA team at the quarter mark and the Cavs' grade was very kind.  Based on what I have seen so far this season, I would have given the Wine & Gold a worse grade. 

The Bleacher Report even admitted in their piece that their B- grade of the Cavs was conservative and mostly based on that they aren’t playing as well as they did last year. They also cited injuries have played their part. The lineup of Garland, Mitchell, Strus, Allen and Mobley have only played 304 offensive possessions in the 1st quarter of the season. B/R feels that if the Cavs can get healthy that they will undoubtedly improve their play and point differential.  

Why the Cavaliers scored a B-

In the first twenty games of the 2023-24 season, the Cavaliers had a record of 11-9. In the 2022-23 season, they had a record of 13-7. There is a huge difference in those records, but the eye test tells a different story. This season’s offense has not been the easiest to watch. As of today, Cleveland is ranked 24th in Offensive Rating, which means only six teams play offense worse than them. None of those teams that are below them are aspiring playoff teams. Perhaps trading for some more shooting help might make a difference. Or perhaps, an Emoni Bates callup might energize the team

The Bleacher Report’s generous grade is not a huge surprise, as they have written other articles that praised the Cavs. In that piece, B/R’s Grand Hughes graded each NBA team’s free agency and gave the Cavaliers an “A.” Specifically, they had nice things to say about the additions of Max Strus, Craig Porter Jr, and Georges Niang. Outside shooting was an aspect that the Cavs struggled with in the Knicks playoff series last season. And the additions of Strus and Niang were aimed at fixing that issue. Suffice it to say that the writers over there at Bleacher Report might be bigger fans of the Cavs than Cavs fans. 

One Cavs fan who thinks a B- grade is too generous is myself. For the first 20 games of the season, they have mostly been in the play-in playoff position. And to be honest, they have been playing like a play-in team. Despite the offseason additions, their offense has not been clicking consistently, they have been turning over the ball too much and their defense has not been elite. The defense has been average at best, until lately when they have climbed up to 8th in Defensive Rating.  They will need to stay a top-10 defense if they are wanting to be competitive going forward. Doing so with Darius Garland and Evan Mobley out for weeks is a daunting task.

Unfortunately, the Cavaliers are going to be constantly compared to the 51-win team of last season. The expectations are high and it might be unfair to compare because you can't control injuries and you can't control other teams’ improvement. No matter how you spin it, the Cavs have looked like an average team. At this point last year in December the Cavs were 17-11 and they went on a 5-game winning streak. This season’s Cavs would need a streak like that to get back into the swing of things.

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