Cleveland Cavaliers Last Season Performance
When evaluating the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 2021-22 NBA season, the development and rebuild of the team were a success. After winning just 19 games two seasons ago, followed by 22 wins during the 2020-21 season, the Cavs celebrated a 22-win improvement (44 wins) this season. That in and of itself is an accomplishment. Cleveland also was in the conversation for a playoff spot, one of its goals and aspirations, and competed in two Play-In Tournament games in an attempt to secure a spot in the postseason.
While the Cavs failed to make it past the Play-In Tournament, which brought a level of disappointment for the franchise, players and the fans, the 2021-22 season has set the tone for the future.
After the Cavs drafted rookie Evan Mobley in the 2021 NBA Draft, they had to find a way to get both him and Jarrett Allen on the floor. With Kevin Love already on the roster, the front office traded for Lauri Markkanen, which once again allowed them to experiment with a unique big lineup.
Whether it was through their three-big lineup, or the defensive prowess of guys like Isaac Okoro and Lamar Stevens, the Cavs based their team identity on the defensive end of the floor. Cleveland saw its potential to dominate the paint on the defensive end, which coach J.B. Bickerstaff viewed as a necessity to win games.
Early on, the Cavs held themselves to that standard by having one of the top defensive ratings in the league. Following the All-Star break, Cleveland’s defense began to slip. The Cavs lost Allen to 19 games due to a finger fracture in March, and Mobley for a week due to an ankle sprain. During that stretch, they dropped from having the fifth-best defensive rating to 25th in the league
The Cavs ended the regular season overall with the fifth-best defensive rating, which was a significant jump from where they finished the 2020-21 season (22nd). With a healthy roster, the Cavs’ defense showcased in stretches how dominant it can be in protecting the paint and the rim.
Cleveland Cavaliers Off-Season Changes
Perhaps the peak of the Cleveland Cavaliers rebuild came during the 2020-21 season, as they claimed the third pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and were able to get Evan Mobley, a young All-Star in the making in the frontcourt.
Now, heading into the 2022-23 season, the Cavaliers have continued to add on to their young core and after finishing 44-38 a season ago and making the Play-In Tournament, Cleveland is ready to prove that they are a legit playoff threat in the Eastern Conference.
But the main question remains: can the Cavaliers clinch an actual playoff spot this upcoming season for the first time since the 2017-18 season? The Cavs ended up being quite busy this NBA offseason and each one of these moves could end up making a huge difference in them taking yet another big step forward as a young franchise.
Cleveland Cavaliers Key Additions
Donovan Mitchell’s arrival in Cleveland sent shockwaves through the NBA. A two-time All-Star and one of the best individual scorers in the league was heading East to join a young and growing team. A change of scenery for Spida, who will face the same challenge in the Cavs as he did in Utah: to prove that he is truly a superstar.
To accomplish this goal, he will not only have to replicate the numbers he put up in Utah and for which he is considered one of the 30 best in the league, but he also has the obligation to be a leader. In Salt Lake City he never managed to establish himself as a leader and now all eyes will be in that direction.
Mitchell’s value is unquestionable at this point, but his defensive deficit is something that in Cleveland probably won’t be let go as easily as it was in his previous home. The Cavs are one of the most defensively potent teams in the league and Spida should fit in and contribute as he did in his college days.
Cleveland Cavaliers Key Subtractions
On the subtraction end, the Cavaliers did not make any flashy moves or significant losses. They traded away Collin Sexton, Lauri Markannen, and Ochai Agbaji to the Utah Jazz for Donovan Mitchell.
The forward group is definitely going to take a hit with Markkanen leaving the team, but again, this was part of the Mitchell trade, so it can’t really be that big of a hit to them
Cleveland Cavaliers Head Coach Analysis
Despite being one of the NBA’s younger head coaches, J. B. Bickerstaff took over in Cleveland with no shortage of experience. The Cavs mark Bickerstaff’s third head coaching job in the NBA after previous stints with the Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies.
As is the case in Cleveland, Bickerstaff took over both of those positions in-season following the firing of a previous head coach. After succeeding Kevin McHale in Houston during the 2015-16 season, the Denver native amassed a 37-34 record as the Rockets’ interim head coach but wasn’t retained following a five-game defeat at the hands of the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
In 2017, Bickerstaff was named Memphis’ interim coach following the firing of David Fizdale. Despite finishing with just a 15-48 record, he was named as the Grizzlies’ permanent head coach at the season’s end.
Bickerstaff’s tenure in Memphis, however, would only last for one more year as he was fired after tallying a 33-49 record in the 2018-19 season. The firing came as a surprise to many as the Grizzlies clearly appeared to be in the midst of a rebuild.
Now in Cleveland, creating a culture is exactly what Bickerstaff has done, and it has made all the difference. It resonates with players when their head coach sets the table and prioritizes accountability.
Buy-in. Commit. Focus. All things that the Cavaliers instilled as an organization because of J.B. Bickerstaff. And all things leading the Cavaliers from the bottom of the Eastern Conference to playoff mainstay.
Cleveland Cavaliers Betting Prediction for the 2022-23 Season
The Sportsbook has the Cavaliers at +2500 odds to win the 2023 NBA Championship and at +1100 to win the Eastern Conference. The Cavs’ ‘Best Case’ this year would be 50-plus wins and a top-three seed in the East. If Cleveland can stay healthy, something that did not happen last year, they should be able to have a top-10ish offense and a top-five-ish defense. And if some of their role players, namely Isaac Okoro and Caris LeVert, figure it out, they have solid enough depth.
The Cavs are going to take some time to gel, so maybe that takes more time than expected. In a loaded Eastern Conference, where eight or nine teams have legitimate expectations/hopes to avoid the play-in tournament, that puts them behind the eight ball. On top of that, the Cavs’ lack of trustworthy wings leaves them exposed in a conference that is full of teams with really good wings. They still win 45 or so games, but fall in the play-in and face an uphill battle to get into the real playoffs.
Cleveland Cavaliers Team Leaders
Cleveland Cavaliers Team Ranked Stats
Cleveland Cavaliers Team Summary
Cleveland Cavaliers Team Injuries
Cleveland Cavaliers Team Schedule/Results
Cleveland Cavaliers Team Standings
Cleveland Cavaliers Team Roster
Cleveland Cavaliers FAQs
When was the last time the Cleveland Cavaliers made the playoffs?
The Cleveland Cavaliers last made the playoffs in 2018, when they lost the Finals. They’ve been in the playoffs a total of 22 times in their 53 seasons.
Do the Cleveland Cavaliers have a chance of winning the Eastern Conference title?
Maybe it is bold to say that this team could win the Eastern Conference seeing as their core is still very young and inexperienced when it comes to the playoffs, but they are going to be a dangerous team late in the season that could present a ton of nightmares for opposing championship contenders in the conference.
Have the Cleveland Cavaliers won an NBA championship?
In 2016, the Cavaliers won their first NBA Championship, marking Cleveland’s first major sports title since 1964. The 2016 NBA Finals victory over the Golden State Warriors marked the first time in Finals history a team had come back to win the series after trailing three games to one.
Why Are the Cleveland Cavaliers part of the NBA?
The team began play as an expansion team in 1970 when the number of NBA teams went up to 17, along with the Portland Trail Blazers and Buffalo Braves.