Is the Cavs' recent play a sign of things to come?

The Cavaliers are 7-8 since the All-Star break

James Rapien
March 23, 2019 - 11:51 am
Mar 20, 2019; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton (2) celebrates after scoring in the fourth quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Jordan Clarkson drove left, created some space and let it fly right over Danilo Gallinari’s head. The ultimate sixth man was certain his three-point attempt was going to fall. Instead, it rimmed out and the Clippers held on to beat the Cavaliers 110-108 on Friday night.

Any loss is disappointing, but Clarkson and his teammates know how far they’ve come this season. Cleveland would’ve lost the same game by double-digits if it were played in January.

The Cavs went 2-1 this week against three playoff teams. They’re fun to watch and enjoying themselves on the court. The emergence of Collin Sexton and Cedi Osman, paired with Kevin Love’s return has given the Cavaliers a boost since the All-Star break.

“When we’re healthy we are a problem,” Larry Nance Jr., said after the game. “I just hate that this year had to come down to injuries, but I think we’re showing promise for next year.

“We’re a dangerous ball club when we’re healthy.”

The Cavaliers are 7-8 since the All-Star break and have posted a 6-3 record in their last nine home games. Health has certainly played a factor this season and has an impact during the turnaround. Love has missed time, as has Tristan Thompson, Matthew Dellavedova and Nance. This team is resilient and they’ve proven it this season.

Could the Cavs turn things around sooner, rather than later? They have two emerging young players in Sexton and Osman. Their All-Star is back in the lineup and averaging 17.5 points and 10.2 rebounds since his return. The Cavs suddenly look competitive, which is a complete 180 from what we saw earlier this season.

“I think ending the season the right way, yes, there is some sort of a carry over,” Love said when asked if finishing strong could help next season? “I do believe that leaving things on a positive note and doing things the right way at the end and I think on a separate note that LD (Larry Drew) will always have us doing that.”

The Cavaliers are showing us what it could’ve been like had they been healthy to start the season. They dealt with injury after injury, which made them unwatchable at times, but they made it through the other side. Now they’re giving fans an idea of what the future could hold.

“We’ve shown that we can compete with some of the better teams, particularly when we have a full squad,” head coach Larry Drew said. “We do have a full squad right now and it feels pretty darn good.”

They’re only going to get more talented between now and the start of the 2019-2020 campaign. The Cavs will likely add a high lottery pick to a roster that includes veterans like Love, Thompson, Clarkson and Nance. If his improvement during the season is any indicator, Sexton will work his tail off to get better this offseason. Osman has flashed this year and it’s realistic to expect him to improve as a shooter.

There’s a path where the Cavaliers are not only competitive next season, but make the playoffs. Of course they need a bunch of things to go their way, starting with a ping-pong ball bouncing during the NBA Draft Lottery on May 14.

Love says continuity is important during a rebuild, which is a problem he dealt with in Minnesota. Keeping the Cavs’ core intact shouldn’t be a problem. They’ll likely have a new head coach, a couple of new, young players that are currently participating in the NCAA Tournament and a team that is hungry to show the final months of the 2018-2019 season was just the beginning.