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Breaking Down the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 5 Best Moments of 2018
- Updated: December 31, 2018
The Cleveland Cavaliers have had an eventful year. After being championship contenders during the 2017-18 season, the Cavs are currently the worst team in the league.
From enduring another NBA finals smackdown to the Golden State Warriors to losing superstar LeBron James to becoming the laughing stock of the league, the team has had some forgettable moments this year. Yet, there have been a plethora of fantastic memories as well.
Here are the Cavs’ five best memories of 2018:
LeBron’s Game-Winner vs. Indiana Pacers in Game 5
Although James recently left Cleveland for the second time in his career, the veteran made sure to give the city his all before departing. Perhaps the best picture of that was Game 5 of the opening round versus the Indiana Pacers when the forward lit up Quicken Loans Arena.
With the game tied at 95, James sank a triple at the buzzer to give the Cavs a 3-2 advantage in the series. After the four-time MVP was embraced by teammates, James sprang up on the scorer’s table while pumping his chest and screaming at the Cleveland crowd. The iconic moment was one of James’ most spectacular memories in Cleveland.
On top of the amazing game-winner, James finished the contest with a masterful stat line. The three-time champion put up 44 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists on 15-of-15 shooting from the free-throw line.
Drafting Collin Sexton
Perhaps the best long-term move of the year, drafting Collin Sexton was one of the best moments of the Cavs’ year. Not only was the point guard the final piece in the Kyrie Irving trade, but he was the focal point in the team’s decision to turn to rebuilding.
Unlike the last time James left Cleveland, the team already has their next star in line. When the Cavs selected Sexton with the eighth pick in the 2018 draft they chose him with the thought that he would be the future of the franchise.
Along with Cedi Osman, the Cavs have a strong youth core to build upon for the next few years. Furthermore, instead of the city having to endure an abysmal season to get a high draft pick, the team is already grooming the youngster for when he gets older.
The 6-foot-2 guard is averaging 14.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game in his rookie season in the league.
Extending Kevin Love
Although the Cavs’ summer was marred by the loss of James, extending Kevin Love was one of the best decisions of the year. Love, who’s making $24.1 million this season, signed a contract extension that begins next year and is worth $120 million over the next four seasons. Had he not signed the deal, the big man would have become an unrestricted free agent in July.
The massive contract locked in Love to stay for the next few years and holds the team accountable to compete for the playoffs. Although this season has nearly gone to waste due to Love’s injury, the team is expected to be much better next year. Not only did the contract keep the 2016 champion in Cleveland, but it keeps the Cavs flexible when it comes to trades and transactions.
If the team can’t compete any time soon, they can trade Love in exchange for draft picks or great young players. The extension restored hope in competitive Cleveland sports, despite the departure of James. While the sample size is just four games this season, Love is putting up 19.0 points, 13.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.
Trading for Matthew Dellavedova
From their head coach getting fired to their only All-Star getting injured, the beginning of the 2018-19 season has been absolutely abysmal for the Cavs. In addition the team traded beloved veterans George Hill and Kyle Korver. Yet, the team was able to get one awesome player in return.
In a multi-team trade that sent Hill to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Cavs brought back fan favorite Matthew Dellavedova. The 28-year-old stole the heart of Cavs fans with his heart, hustle and humble heroism during the 2015 and 2016 NBA Finals. While the veteran left the team after winning a championship to pursue more money and playing time, Cleveland was always home for the Australian guard.
While this season has had it’s numerous downsides, the arrival of Dellavedova was definitely a bright spot. The champion will also be a fantastic mentor and aid to rookie Sexton’s growth in the NBA.
LeBron’s return to Cleveland as a Los Angeles Laker
Everyone remembers the terrible time James returned to Cleveland in 2010. In his first return to Quicken Loans Area, the star was faced with vitriol, disappointment, frustration and abhorrence. Despite leading the lowly Cavs to the Finals in 2007 and having back-to-back MVP seasons before he left, James’ initial return was not well received.
Yet, his second return to the arena with the Lakers was a completely different story. The veteran was met with a roaring ovation from a packed crowd. In addition, the Cavs organization showered the hometown hero with pictures, social media posts and an incredible video tribute at the game.
The entire night was a testament to the special connection James had with Cleveland. It was also a night for the Cavs to show the world just how classy, thoughtful and professional they can be, especially after a sad homecoming eight years ago. It was the perfect storybook reunion for both parties in front of the whole world.