The Cleveland Cavaliers have officially ended their playoff drought and will be entering the bracket in the Eastern Conference as the No. 4 seed.
While there are a lot of reasons to celebrate, the work is far from over. Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff recently discussed the team the Cavs will face off against in the first round of the playoffs, the New York Knicks.
“We understand and have a ton of respect for them,” Bickerstaff told Cleveland.com and one other outlet following Thursday’s shootaround in Orlando, Fla. “Having played them recently and seeing them up close, you know what to prepare for and how well-prepared they are going to be. We need to go play to our strength and be who we are. It’s gotten us this far. Obviously, we will make minor adjustments with personnel, but we have a heavy belief in who we are and what we have done.”
If one was to look at the how the Cavs have performed against the Knicks in the 2022-23 NBA regular season, it would become evident that there are some real reasons for concern. In four games, the Cavs have gone 1-3 against the iconic franchise, and the games haven’t been particularly close.
Only one of the Cavs’ losses has come by single digits. That was a 105-103 decision that took place back on Jan. 24. Cleveland’s most recent loss to New York, which came back on March 31, ended in a 130-116 score favoring the Knicks.
With that in mind, there is one key stat that definitely favors the Cavs despite their lackluster record against the Knicks this season. That is the Cavs’ 31-9 record at home, one of the best home records in the entire league. As the Cavs will have home-court advantage in the best-of-seven series, they have to feel good about their chances.
A lot has changed since the Cavs began their post-LeBron James era rebuild in the 2018-19 season. After several years of tough sledding, the Cavs are now once again one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
That’s thanks to homegrown talent like Darius Garland and Evan Mobley playing alongside stars who have ended up being fantastic trade acquisitions in Jarrett Allen and Donovan Mitchell.
It is sure to be a fantastic ride going forward as Cavs fans, players and coaches alike figure out just how good this team is when stacked up against the other top teams in the East.