Playoffs? Cleveland Cavaliers come out of the break considering huge, however how seemingly is it after back-to-back blowout losses?


ATLANTA – Playoffs? Are you kidding me? Playoffs?!?!

The Cleveland Cavaliers came out of recess and discussed the possibility, which led to raised eyebrows, confused looks, and ridicule.

But what should they say? They had just won four out of five games on the All-Star break. It would have been five in a row if one hadn’t lost sight of defeat in a collapse against the Indiana Pacers on March 3rd. Two of these wins were against playoff opponents Philadelphia and Atlanta. They survived a hell of a February and made it through the worst of their schedule. Not only did the Cavs build a positive dynamic, but help was along the way as both Larry Nance Jr. and Kevin Love were expected back after the nine-day release.

Combine all of that with an easier two-month ending – in 16th place on schedule according to Tankathon – the gross competition at the end of the Eastern Conference, five games against teams under 500 in the first two weeks and there were logical reasons to believe the Cavs could possibly make a real boost. Believe it or not, you still can. But they have to get out of this discomfort after the break. Fast.

Cleveland lost to Atlanta (100-82) on Sunday night. Two of the “winnable” games in the second half were missed. This is not the way to make up ground.

But here’s the thing: Very little has changed in the Cavs’ overall outlook as the teams around them were just as bad, if not worse, overall. The Cavs are 14-24 in the season, just 4.5 games behind the Hawks, who are currently in eighth place, thanks to a five-game winning streak sparked by a combination of new health and a change of coach. Atlanta is hardly infallible, still a game under 500.

Let’s forget about the hawks for a minute. You are more talented. They have a one year head start on their rebuilding and a clearer path if they can weather an upcoming eight game road trip that starts in March and runs through April. Forget everyone else about the Hawks, too – though the Knicks could be beaten by regression in part due to the strength of the NBA schedule in the top half of the NBA and four of the next seven against Brooklyn. Philadelphia and Milwaukee.

At this point, the young and inconsistent Cavs’ most realistic hope is one of the play-in spots.

Indiana Pacers

Not only has Indiana underperformed this season, currently with a record 17-20, but it has lost six of its last eight games and reached Denver, Brooklyn, Miami and Milwaukee – four of those matchups on the road – in a grueling five-game . Stretch the game out of the break. The Pacers hold ninth place, 3.5 games ahead of the Cavs. Where will they be after such a tough week?

The upside for Indiana is that Caris LeVert is returning and Domantas Sabonis is resuming his all-star game, an easy schedule for the second half, especially in April. According to Tankathon, the Pacers occupy 22nd place in the strength of the schedule for the rest of the way. You have three games against Washington with 14 wins, two against the penultimate Detroit and a pair against the free falling Orlando. Oklahoma City, Minnesota, Houston and Sacramento are also part of this closing plan.

Indiana should be considered a favorite to lock up one of the play-in moorings and maybe even overtake New York or Atlanta.

Chicago Bulls

They have the same record as Indiana and have just lost two games when they faced Toronto, which deals with COVID-19 complications across its roster. The Bulls have lost double digits in the previous two games. Ah, the growing pains of a rebuilding team that depends on the youth.

Even with Zach LaVine to stabilize them, the cops were almost as sporadic as Cleveland. According to Tankathon, the Bulls have the eighth toughest schedule for the second half, including eight of the next 10 games against over 500 teams and 20 of their last 35 against that level of competition. Chicago could also move veterans Thaddeus Young and / or Otto Porter Jr. before March 25, which would hurt their postseason chances.

There is a strong argument that the cops are better than the Cavs. You have a chance to prove it with three games against them in a month. However, the tougher schedule and possible changes in the squad may not allow the Cops to act like the better team.

Toronto Raptors

After the Raptors occupied number 2 in the east last season, they fell out of the overall standings and the postseason picture. No team is affected by the pandemic anymore. In addition to being evicted from Toronto, the Raptors have postponed several games and were without two of their best players (Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet) during those five losses.

Even if these guys get back soon, the Raptors will have tough choices to make. There are already trade rumors floating around the possibility of dumping soon-to-be free agent Kyle Lowry and maybe even Norman Powell, who is in the middle of a breakout season with a massive summer payday in mind. Additionally, Toronto has the 10th toughest remaining schedule in late April / early May, which includes a four-game road trip on the west coast – Denver, Utah, Lakers, and Clippers.

There are reasons to expect Toronto to take a boost in the second half. On the other hand, that was the expectation all season and it hasn’t happened yet. The Raptors are just 2.5 games ahead of Cleveland.

Washington Wizards

Despite a talented backcourt duo of Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook and a surge in mid-February, the Wizards have started to fade again, losing five of their last six games. They are 14-23 in the season, a meager half game on the Cavs. Remember that terrible defense that kept the Wizards out of the playoffs last season and battled Cleveland for last place? Well it’s back! Washington occupies the last place in the allowed points and gives up almost 120 per game, the 25th place in the percentage of the opposing field goals and the 27th place in the defensive scoring as well as the 3-point percentage. The best advantage Washington has: the third easiest schedule in the last 35 games. Three games against Detroit. Two against Toronto. Even three against the Cavs, which could go a long way in defining this head-to-head race.

Orlando Magic

After reaching number 8 in 2019-20, they have 13 wins. You have lost eight in a row. They have the third worst point differential in the league. And a brutal schedule for the second half. The only harder one, according to Tankathon, is one of the Houston Rockets.

Can you say fire sale There’s a lot of talk about the availability of Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon, and even All-Star Nikola Vucevic. Like the Cavs, Orlando has dealt with a number of injuries that contributed to his fall. With anything, it’s difficult to see them climb hard over the next few months.

Detroit flask

The pistons deserve recognition for their competitiveness. But their intentions are clear. The early stages of a renovation are not about this season. The Cavs are better than Detroit after taking two wins and another could come in late April.

It is understandable why these thoughts exist if one ignores the initial jokes associated with the “P-word” on a 14-win Cavs team. Games like Sunday in Atlanta – or even Friday against the New Orleans Pelicans – certainly don’t help. The Cavs have to find each other again. But while they are wildly inconsistent and have a flawed roster that makes another 10 game loss as likely as an increase in the opposite direction, the same can be said of the Hawks, Pacers, Bulls, Raptors, Wizards, Magic, and even Knicks become . Otherwise these teams would be further ahead, wouldn’t they?

It is worth asking if a playoff spot is the best result for the Cavs in need of a star that could become the centerpiece of this renaissance. Another top pick in a loaded design could change the trajectory. But making it through the postseason is a stated goal – and it’s not as far-fetched as successive blowout losses would lead you to believe. The opportunity will be there.

Can the Cavs recover and capitalize?

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New Cavs Face Masks For Sale: Here, you can purchase Cleveland Cavaliers-themed face covers for coronavirus protection, including a single mask ($ 14.99) and a pack of 3 ($ 24.99). All NBA proceeds were donated to charity.

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