The Cleveland Cavaliers are on a five-game winning streak, defeating the Kings, Jazz, Spurs, Thunder and Nets. This brings Cleveland’s record to 7-2 in the month of January. The Cavs now find themselves only 1.5 games back from first place in the Eastern Conference. This win streak has moved the Cavaliers up to a fourth seed in the East as they continue to pile together wins.
Cleveland is building momentum for the playoffs
According to Basketball-Reference, the Cavs are projected to finish atop the Eastern Conference with a record 52-30. In addition, Basketball-Reference gives Cleveland a 99.9% chance to earn a playoff berth. Some have continued to doubt and rule out the idea of the Cavaliers making the playoffs this season. At this point, the Wine and Gold appearing in the playoffs is nearly inevitable. Both Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen continue to play at All-Star levels. Also, their upcoming schedule is still the weakest remaining schedule in the East.
Basketball-Reference’s model is projecting the Cavs to go quite far in the playoffs as well. This is rather interesting since Cleveland is a new and up-and-coming squad with plenty of youth. Regardless, Basketball-Reference gives them a 37.5% chance to win the Eastern Conference (first in the East) and gives them a 15.9% chance to win the NBA Finals. Winning the Finals seems nearly impossible, the Cavaliers’ core is just now emerging, a title seems far more likely in the future. It is also hard to imagine Cleveland defeating a healthy Nets or Bucks team in the playoffs. Yes, the Wine and Gold did beat Brooklyn Tuesday night (114-107), but Kevin Durant was out.
Winning a playoff series does look likely
At this moment, winning a playoff series does seem quite likely for the Cavs though. On their current path, Cleveland should be the higher seed in at least one series. If they were to play a team like the 76ers, Hornets or Wizards, the Cavaliers could certainly win those series. This season is not a fluke, this is a good NBA team that will contend when the postseason comes around. Particularly on the defensive end, the Cavs’ success is undeniable.
Cleveland Cavaliers East ranks:
1st in wins (tied)
1st in net rating
1st in defensive rating
1st in avg. score differential
1st in opponent scoring
1st in interior FG% allowed
1st in secondary/potential assists
1st in paint scoring
1st in +/-
1st in win streak pic.twitter.com/fipKFa4X9c
— Greg Swartz (@GregSwartzBR) January 18, 2022
The Cavaliers will have a huge game Wednesday night against the Chicago Bulls — which holds the top seed in the East. If the Wine and Gold can defeat the Bulls, they would be extremely close to grabbing the one seed. While a one seed is unlikely by the end of the regular season, who would have thought the Cavaliers would be battling for a one seed in mid-January? Simply making the playoffs would have made many happy this season, but now Cleveland might want to raise their goals for the postseason.
Featured image courtesy of Jason Miller/Getty Images
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