Feb 23, 2023 - Sports

An idiot's guide to the Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cleveland Cavaliers 2022-2023 starting lineup, from L-R: Evan Mobley, Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, Isaac Okoro, Donovan Mitchell

The Cleveland Cavaliers 2022-23 starting lineup, from L-R: Evan Mobley, Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, Isaac Okoro, Donovan Mitchell. Photo: David Liam Kyle/Getty

The Cleveland Cavaliers are among the brightest young teams in the NBA and kick off the season's stretch run tonight.

State of play: The Cavs are fourth place in the Eastern Conference with one of the easiest remaining schedules in the league.

  • The top eight teams in the East and the West advance to the NBA playoffs, so the Cavs are all but guaranteed a postseason berth after their regular season concludes April 9.

Players to know: The Cavs' so-called "core four" should all be household names:

  • Darius Garland (point guard): An ascendant sharpshooter who has become one of the headiest passers and clutch floor generals in the league.
  • Donovan Mitchell (shooting guard): Cleveland's lone 2023 All-Star and an inspiring leader on and off the court. He made NBA history with his 71-point, 11-assist performance Jan. 2.
  • Evan Mobley (power forward): A second-year big man with preternatural defensive instincts and Hall of Fame potential.
  • Jarrett Allen (center): The Fro himself, a dominant rim-protector, rebounder and dunker who happens to be an absolute sweetheart.

By the numbers: The Cavs are the NBA's top-ranked defense, holding teams to 106.1 points per game.

Yes, but: Consistent three point shooting — essential in the modern NBA — has been elusive, and coach J.B. Bickerstaff has experimented with a rotating cast of bench players to catch lightning in a bottle from night to night.

Games to watch: High-profile matchups in the next few weeks will foreshadow the playoff stakes and atmosphere:

  • March 1 vs Boston Celtics: A nationally televised brawl with the East's top team.
  • March 10 vs. Miami Heat: The second of back-to-back games in Miami, an Eastern conference playoff hopeful that now features Kevin Love on its roster.
  • March 15 vs. Philadelphia 76ers: A primetime matchup on ESPN against an MVP-caliber center (Joel Embiid) in the cozy confines of Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
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