Far-Fetched Friday: Cleveland Cavaliers Make ECF

01/23/2023

The Cleveland Cavaliers have made themselves serious dark horse contenders. The team is currently 28-19, sitting 5th in the eastern conference. 4th in net rating with an offense ranked 12th, and a defense ranked 2nd. The Acquisition of Donovan Mitchell has proved to be an early success. Mitchell has been playing at an all-star level and is flirting with being in the MVP conversation. The addition of Mitchell in the backcourt, paired with a stout frontcourt, is why I think the Cleveland Cavaliers will at least make the eastern conference finals.

Welcome back to Far-Fetched Friday, where every Friday we give you a bold prediction that we believe will come to fruition. This Friday, we look at the Land.


Backcourt:

It was clear last season the Cavaliers needed another creator next to Darius Garland. The Brooklyn Nets surrounded the undersized Garland when the ball would always end up back in his hand at the end of possessions. The acquisition of Donovon Michell solved that over a thousand. Mitchell is having an amazing bounce-back season. Averaging 30 points, playing defense again, and not to mention dropping 71 points in a game. This pairing between Garland and Mithcell will cause problems for teams in the playoffs. It's hard to have one guy who can consistently defend small twitchy guards, but against the Cavs, it's pick your poison. Donovan Mitchell, in his young career, has proven to be someone that can rise to the occasion in the playoffs.


Frontcourt:

The frontcourt may seem unorthodox on paper, but when you watch how Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley operate defensively, it's easy to understand why the Cleveland Cavaliers have a top defense in the league. As of 1/21, the Cavs, at 109.7, are only behind Memphis Grizzlies with a 109.2 defensive rating. Mobley's ability to switch out on the perimeter and turn his hips at his size is why he is an elite talent. His instincts and Allen's presence around the rim make it challenging to get in the paint against the Cavs.

What's holding this team back?

The 3-spot that bridges the backcourt and frontcourt is what the Cavaliers need to upgrade if they want to go over the top. Caris Levert is great off the bench but leaves more to be desired in closing lineups. Lamar Stevens, Cedi Osman, and Dean Wade are great rotational pieces you could survive with but won't get the job done when chasing the best. The trade market this year gives the Cavs great options. Kyle Kuzma might be an ideal fit. His ability to score from 3 levels, plus his size and physicality matched with his playoff experience, makes him a top target. Other options include Bogdon Bgodnoivc, Jae Crowder, Eric Gordon, and maybe even Cam Reddish or . . . LeBron James?

The combination of dynamic playmaking guards capable of taking over games with a frontcourt that anchors a top 2 defense in the league makes the Cleveland Cavaliers serious dark horse contenders this year.


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