Last week on Thursday, during the NBA trade deadline day, experts thought the Cleveland Cavaliers were completely dismantling the team and questioned why the team was shipping players out and bringing in a younger core of players. The Cavaliers were by far the busiest team during the trade deadline but as we have seen since last week, the moves may have been the right move!
The Cleveland Cavaliers appear to have found a new gear and are playing with a little extra motivation, which has brought back hope and optimism to Cleveland, Ohio! The Cavaliers are undefeated, winning all of their games since the trade deadline and one of the most eye catching stats of that trend is the teams that they are beating, are high caliber teams that are playoff bound.
The Cavaliers are coming in off a 120-112 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder are in 5th place in the Western Conference and are heading to the playoffs with the combination of Paul George, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony. Last Sunday, the Cavs beat up on one of the Eastern Conference top teams, the Boston Celtics. The Cavs won the game 121-99 completely ignoring Boston’s top defense on their way to a scoring explosion. The win itself was impressive but the fact that they did it on Paul Pierce day is even more impressive! On Friday, the Cavaliers beat up on the Atlanta Hawks, winning the game 123-107.
One of the most ironic parts of the win streak, which is actually at 4 games if you count the game prior to the trade deadline, is the last 3 games were all on the road, where they have struggled over the past 2 months. They have gone 14-15, one game under .500 this year, on the road so the wins are even more eye opening and impressive.
Those wins just aren’t close wins either, in the 3 games since the trade deadline the Cavaliers have won by a combined 46 points or 15.33 points per game. The Cavaliers are averaging 110.2 points per game over the course of the season but in the last 4 game winning streak, the Cavaliers are averaging 126 points per game.
The Cavaliers have now gone from 5th place in the Eastern Conference playoff race to 3rd place, just 6 games back of the first place Toronto Raptors. Their first half of the season is over and they have 26 games left in the second half to improve their position in the Eastern Conference.
The new players that the Cleveland Cavaliers added aren’t really setting the world on fire in the stat line but what they have done is bring a rejuvenated sense of excitement to the overall team. In Tuesday Night’s game with the Thunder, Lebron James was 2 rebounds and 2 assists away from a triple double, posting 37 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists. George Hill got the start for the Cavaliers and scored 7 points, while Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood, and Larry Nance all scored 13 or 14 points each off the bench.
In the game against the Celtics, Hill scored 12 points in the start, while Clarkson scored 17, Hood scored 15 and Nance put up 5 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists. Clarkson and Hood have both scored in double digit figures in both games this year as a Cavalier and have immediately served as some depth off the Cavaliers bench.
With the Cavaliers playing much better basketball post trade deadline, it leaves the NBA world wondering if this is what the Cleveland Cavaliers needed to get over the hump and back to the promised land of winning a NBA Title. This is most likely LeBron James last year in Cleveland, as he will become a free agent at the end of the year and it is anticipated that he will sign a very large contract, potentially with the LA Lakers.
There is always the possibility that he could resign with the Cavaliers but experts close to the situation say that it is very unlikely. Prior to the trades being made, it is said that James met with Cleveland Cavaliers General Manager Koby Altman about the potential trades and talks went well. These type of conversations have become rare in Cleveland with James agent Rich Paul handling most conversations between his client and the organization.
James stated prior to the trade deadline that he would not get involved in any trade talks because he is a player and didn’t want to be involved in trade deadline issues. With that subject changing, this may be a sign that the muddy waters are starting to clear up between James and the organization, which could result in talks between the two for keeping King James in Cleveland.