The Cleveland Cavaliers’ mid-season review is a good one, contrary to recent seasons. Ahead of the season, the Cavs set lofty goals to compete in the NBA’s playoffs. At first, that seemed quite unrealistic, but now, these goals are within reach for the Cavaliers. Sitting at 14-12, Cleveland currently holds the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference (only one game behind fourth-place).
Per Basketball-Reference, the Cavs have the third-highest probability among the Eastern Conference to make the playoffs with a shocking 92.3%. This takes into account all of their future opponents and how winnable each game is. Of course, Cleveland could go into a slump at some point, then these odds would take a large hit. For now, this is an eye-opening stat that shows how well the Cavs have played this season. There is plenty to like about the Cavaliers’ mid-season review.
Many Factors have Led to Cleveland’s Great Start
The Wine and Gold’s improvement over one off-season is remarkable. Last season, the Cavs’ bench was far from good and three-point shooting was a problem. Now, Cleveland has several good bench contributors with Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love and Cedi Osman. Rubio is on track to average a career-high scoring mark at 13.2 points. In addition, Love is roughly contributing 11 points and seven rebounds per game. Plus, Osman has been a human torch off the bench averaging over 11 points while shooting over 41% from three. The Cavaliers surely did not have three quality bench contributors all averaging double-digit scoring totals last season.
The Cavs’ defense has been the strongest quality of this squad. Cleveland’s opponents average only 102 points (2nd), 33.5% from three (8th) and 17 free throws attempted per game (2nd). It is extremely difficult to overcome this kind of defense, which has led to success for the Cavs. This jump could be mostly credited to the three big lineup: Lauri Markkanen, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. The 7-footer Markkanen has not been known as a defender but has provided solid defense at the small forward position. Mobley is among the league leaders in contested shots; his impact on the defensive end has been remarkable.
There's a ton reasons why Evan Mobley is deserving of Rookie of the Month.
But he's been the biggest reason why a starting lineup with an average age of 21.6 has the 3rd best defense in the NBA.
He leads the league with 14.5 contested shots per game, 5th in contested threes. pic.twitter.com/8BQyYQLdel
— The Chase Down Podcast (@ChaseDownPod) December 3, 2021
Mobley’s impressive start has made him the betting favorite for the NBA’s Rookie of the Year at +160, according to Odds Shark. Then add Allen — who is playing at an All-Star level — to the lineup at the center spot. Allen’s defensive versatility has been amazing as well, giving the Cavs two extremely versatile frontcourt defenders. The length and effort of this lineup have led to fantastic defense.
Cleveland has Conquered a Tough Road with a Balanced Offense
The Cavaliers’ offense has been much better as well. While they are only averaging 105 points (23rd), their shooting has been solid at 45.5% from the floor (15th) and 35.1% from three (13th). Darius Garland — who is averaging 19.5 points and 7.2 assists — is the star of the show on the offensive end. He has done a remarkable job running the offense. This has been a very balanced attack for the Cavaliers with seven double-digit scorers. This consists of Markkanen (14.5 points), Mobley (14 points), Allen (17.1 points), Garland, Love, Rubio and Osman. The one area the Cavaliers must clean up is the turnovers; they rank 28th averaging nearly 16 turnovers.
There is not much to complain about in the Cavaliers’ mid-season review. They have been one of the NBA’s most surprising and enjoyable teams this season led by extraordinary defense and balanced scoring. The Cavs at 14-12 is a major win thus far considering their schedule. Cleveland’s schedule has been the toughest in the association, per Power Rankings Guru. The Wine and Gold’s high playoff odds is due to the weak upcoming schedule. The Cavaliers have conquered the storm and are now awarded with the weakest remaining schedule in the NBA.
The Cavaliers are off to a superb start, and their playoff goals look very realistic with a favorable schedule for the remainder of the season. Coming off their 115-92 win over the Bulls, the Cavs take on the Timberwolves and Kings on Friday and Saturday.
Featured image courtesy of Jason Miller/Getty Images
“From Our Haus to Yours”