Cleveland weather sucks, and the Cavaliers are not helping brighten the sky

April weather is not taking it easy on northeast Ohio, and the Cleveland Cavaliers still cannot find any answer to their recent slide.
Miami Heat v Cleveland Cavaliers
Miami Heat v Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages

Rainy, stormy days in northeast Ohio have turned to dreadful evenings watching the Cleveland Cavaliers fall back into old habits right before the playoffs strike.

First and foremost, the Cavaliers have an immense amount of reasons to be proud of this season. After Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff reinvented the offense and led the team through a treacherous injury-ridden month and-a-half, Cleveland entered the All-Star break with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. Since then, their schedule has featured a daunting number of injuries and roadblocks. Thankfully, their tremendous winter built enough of a safety net to hold onto the third seed in the East, but the Cavs are not approaching the postseason as cohesive as they looked early on.

In their last 15 games, the Cavaliers have a dismal 6-9 record with a field goal percentage down to 48 in that time. Despite two seven-footers in the starting frontcourt, the Cavaliers also have the league's third-worst rebounding percentage in the last 15 games at just 47.5 percent of total possible rebounds going Cleveland's way. The Cavs have yet to resolve their most distressing issue from last season, and it will not bode well for them if they do not step up the hustle and energy on the boards.

Cleveland's poor rebounding is not just a small issue. It is a depressing sign of the team's lack of engagement in a play. At times, the rebounding woes are present because one of Jarrett Allen or Evan Mobley are pulled too far out to the perimeter to guard a shooting threat. Still, the other remaining big man hardly boxes out, ignoring the basic fundamentals of stopping their opponent from getting an extra possession. The Cavaliers have allowed 12.9 second-chance points per game this season, tied for the fifth-highest average in the league.

The Cavaliers are in the midst of a long road trip on the west coast. After going 1-1 on a back-to-back against the Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns, the Cavs now embark on the second half of a back-to-back back-to-back series. Two back-to-backs in a row with one day of rest. Buckle up.

Back in Cleveland, weather has turned sour. While Cleveland endures rain and snow in April, the Cavaliers suffer a drought on the other side of the nation. Thankfully, only five games remain before the Cavs hold homecourt advantage in the first round of the postseason.

The Cavaliers need a break, but they won't find one

How have the Cavaliers stumbled to the finish line so dramatically? Though every analyst noted that the leading Boston Celtics were still favorites to win the East, the Cavs looked like a true challenger to the New England powerhouse. Now, Cleveland looks primed for another embarrassment in the round one if the Miami Heat or Philadelphia 76ers sneak into the six seed.

In December, Darius Garland and Evan Mobley were announced to miss more than a month with injury. Garalnd lost more than a dozen pounds while recovering from a fractured jaw and only being able to eat out of a blender for this period. Mobley received knee surgery and returned in great condition, but he sprained his ankle only a handful of games later and was sidelined for a while once again. With two of their best players missing extensive time, the Cavs have not found a consistent rhythm in their offense when everybody is playing.

Throughout March, the Cavaliers had their undeniably worst month, ending with a 7-10 record in 31 days and a bottom-third offensive and defensive rating. Their efforts in March were so downtrodden that it dragged Cleveland's defensive rating down out of the top five after spending most of the season with the second best in the Association. The downward trend in Cleveland happened seemingly overnight.

Ever since All-Star weekend, the Cavaliers have not had their entire rotation healthy for a single night. Donovan Mitchell has been in and out of the lineup with both a lingering and concerning knee injury and a fractured nose. His stretch of injury luck pushed him out of contention for regular season awards due to the new 65-game rule for these accolades. Mitchell has clearly not recovered from his knee soreness yet after receiving a PRP injection. His patented explosiveness is only emerging in glimpses, leading to defenses forcing a large increase in poor shot opportunities on the perimeter or mid-range. Without their star player at his best, the Cavs look like a team unfit for any sort of postseason battles.

Max Strus missed 12 games after being available all season and serving as Cleveland's ironman along with Georges Niang. Niang now sits alone as the only member of the Cavaliers to stay healthy the entire campaign. Both Isaac Okoro and Dean Wade remain absent from the lineup with a toe injury and knee soreness, respectively. The worst of their injury luck seemed to have been in December when Darius Garland and Evan Mobley were sidelined, but they have found any luck since then.

Blame can be thrown anywhere from the athletic trainers to soft players who do not want to touch the court. There is no one answer to the issues, but the NBA must recognize the problem at hand. The Cavaliers are shockingly one of the teams effected by injuries in moderation compared to their rivals.

The growing injury problem extends beyond Cleveland

The All-Star break is meant to serve as a late-season rest for teams, giving them a short break before a brutal final stretch. Instead, the Cavaliers have been beaten to a pulp alongside many other squads falling apart at the seams. With the league's newest rules against resting players, more players are - unsurprisingly - getting hurt at the very end. When the NBA introduced a slate of new rules to prevent resting star players, they took little consideration to the amount of strain players would put themselves through to meet this quota. The NBA schedule remains a grueling feat with far too many overloaded weeks and months of travel with minimal rest.

Most recently, the New York Knicks' season has come to a screeching halt with news breaking that All-Star Julius Randle would miss the rest of the season after receiving shoulder surgery. This comes on the heels of disheartening news regarding OG Anunoby's uncertain return timeline. The Memphis Grizzlies entered the last offseason as one of the favorites to reach the Western Conference Finals despite Ja Morant's 25-game suspension. Fast forwarding to now, the Grizzlies look entirely different with a roster filled by G-League players and temporary contracts.

Again, there is no perfect remedy or solution. This season may prove to be a freak problem with a plague of injuries. Every team has to find an answer to their own problems. The Cavaliers cannot cast blame on the NBA for not being able to handle a brutal schedule for a stretch of time when they are not even in the top half of the league in schedule difficulty.

Despite the depressing Ohio weather and the Cavs' poor performance, there is hope. The sun still shines through clouds just enough for Clevelanders to see some hope. Evan Mobley has shown major progression in the second half of the season, knocking down more than half of his three-point attempts and showing no fear in absorbing contact in the post. He still has a ways to go, but Mobley is showing signs of consistent development amid the recent slide.

Additionally, Donovan Mitchell seems happy in Cleveland. Despite rumors circulating regarding his future and many analysts claiming the superstar would never consider extending with the Cavaliers, Mitchell has stayed loyal to the team and the culture, giving no signs of discontent. Mitchell is a true leader for the Cavs, holding them and himself accountable after embarrassing losses. Longtime teammate Georges Niang believes Mitchell will stick around for a while, showcasing the value that Cleveland sports culture and an inspiring fanbase brings to a team in the middle of a horrible month.

3 Cavs who need more minutes ahead of the playoffs. 3 Cavs who need more minutes ahead of the playoffs. dark. Next