Cleveland Cavaliers must make most of January Schedule

Cleveland Cavaliers v Toronto Raptors
Cleveland Cavaliers v Toronto Raptors / Mark Blinch/GettyImages

We all made it to 2024, even the Cavs. The Cleveland Cavaliers made it out of 2023 with an 18-14 record despite all of the injuries and adversity that has come their way.

To put it simply, the Cavs are performing much better than expected. If the Cavaliers make a big run at the Championship, December 2023 will be an important month when telling the history of the 2023/24 season. The Cavaliers ended up with an 8-5 record overall in the month where one of the topics of the day, almost every day, was if they would trade Donovan Mitchell.

Also, what was looking to be a disastrous month of December where they lost the services of Darius Garland and Evan Mobley, ended up a show of the strength of their squad. We can only hope they continue to show this resilience into 2024.

The Cavaliers have to make the most of their January schedule

One lucky break the Cavaliers have gotten is they have the second-easiest strength of schedule for January 2024. The Cavs’ cumulative opponent winning percentage is .443 and are the only team in January without any back-to-backs. The Wine & Gold also play the least amount of games in January (13), meaning they have 18 days of rest to start the year.

This rest will be important because the Cavs will be taking on Brooklyn in Paris on January 11. The NBA has given plenty of time to travel for both Cleveland and Brooklyn. Yet at the same time, the time zone change and the jet lag could play a part in the recovery process.

Cleveland's game in France will technically count as a home game, which means the Cavs have eight home games versus only five road games in January. All in all, the Cavaliers should take full advantage of this opportunity this month to feast on the competition. 

Unfortunately, the Cavaliers opened 2024 with a road trip over the northern border against the Raptors. Toronto raced out to a 41-32 first-quarter lead and held on to win by 3 points. On the surface, this loss was a tough one to swallow. The Raptors were 12-20 going into the game and just traded one of their better players OG Anunoby to New York.

Still, even the guys on bad teams are all on scholarship. The NBA nowadays is more competitive from top to bottom than ever, and the Wine & Gold will have to keep that in mind going forward. The Cavaliers cannot take any team, no matter how poor their record is, for granted. Even though they have an easy strength of schedule for January, they had better not take these teams lightly. Nothing is guaranteed.

A chance to climb up the standings

A softer January schedule for the Cavaliers means tougher schedules for others. Orlando, Miami, and Indiana all have tougher schedules this month.

The Pacers have the second-toughest schedule based on the cumulative opponent winning percentage. They also will face 10 games against top-10 ranked defenses in January. In the first two weeks, the Pacers face the Bucks twice, then Boston twice, and Atlanta twice with the Wizards mixed in there. After that, Indiana heads west to Denver, Utah, Sacramento, Phoenix, and Portland. Then to end the month they play Boston a 3rd time for good measure. That’s a rough draw. 

The Miami Heat start the month with the Clippers, the Lakers, the Thunder and the Magic twice, ending the month against the Boston Celtics.

The Orlando Magic play in Denver, at home versus the Timberwolves, Miami twice, the Thunder and the Cavs on January 22, and in Dallas to finish the month. Suffice it to say, the Cavaliers have a great chance to move ahead of all three of these teams in the standings. Just imagine, the Cavaliers feast on the competition this month, they have the fourth seed going into February when they will potentially get Evan Mobley and Darius Garland back.

Thank goodness for the Wizards…