Although dealing with team chemistry issues early on in the season, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers sit in a good position with nine games remaining in the regular season.
Throughout the months of January and February, the Cavaliers’ rank changed from fifth to sixth position in the Eastern Conference. However, Cleveland (46-26) now ranks second and will look to keep its winning success as the Cavaliers prepare for the NBA Playoffs.
The Cavaliers could not have picked a better time to play their best basketball, winning eight of its last ten games. Not to mention, five of their victories were against playoff-bound teams on the road and three of them were against conference opponents.
While the Cavaliers have surged in the standings in recent weeks, their conference opponents have struggled, giving them all the more reason to continue on a path of success.
The Atlanta Hawks (53-17), the leader in the NBA Eastern Conference, have gone 5-5 in their last ten games while the Toronto Raptors (42-29) have dropped six of their last ten, forcing them to drop from second to fourth in the conference.
The Cavaliers control their own destiny to how they will finish the season and their position in the playoffs. Much of Cleveland’s success stems from the play of James but also the consistent, offensive production of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and J.R. Smith.
Currently, James ranks third in the league in points scored, averaging 26 per game and leading the Cavs in assists and steals. Kyrie Irving has posted a 57-point performance and averages 22 points per night. His consistent offense and ability to step up when James struggles from the floor will help the Cavaliers in the playoffs.
Kevin Love is not far behind, averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds per game followed by J.R. Smith with 13 points. What may not seem like much, it will be important that Irving, Love and Smith continue playing at this level to take some of the pressure off of James.
Like the starters surrounding James, other players like Timofey Mosgov, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson will be key to how the Cavs finish season and how far they will get in the playoffs. Mosgov, Waiters and Thompson combine for an average of 31 points per game.
As a team, the Cavs rank seventh in offensive production, 11th on defense and 19th in rebounds.
The Cavaliers have nine games in remaining and it will be critical for them to play efficient on offense and defense. Out of those nine games, four of them are at home against playoff bound teams such as the Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards, Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat.
Here’s an interesting point. In its last ten games, the Cavaliers lost at home to Miami, who currently sits in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. If the playoffs started today, the Cavaliers would play Miami in the first round of the 2015 NBA Playoffs.
Thus, every game matters. Other remaining matchups for Cleveland include the Philadelphia 76ers, Detroit Pistons, Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics.
With a balance of tough conference games left and a mixture of what should be fairly easy wins, the Cavaliers should finish the season with success going into the playoffs.