Cavs legend says team has no excuses to not improve this season after valuable playoff experience

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Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the Cleveland Cavaliers’ brief playoff stay last year, team legend Mark Price believes that the experience will be helpful going forward.

Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal offered the former Cavs guard’s thoughts, with Price noting the stark difference between the regular season and playoffs.

“With Donovan Mitchell, I think [Cavs fans’] expectations might’ve been a little high going into the playoffs,” Price said. “They had a good season, but until you’ve experienced the playoffs — and they have a lot of young players — you just never know how a team’s going to react.

“Just getting to the playoffs, even though they lost and it was a little disappointing to everybody, I think that’s going to be huge for them moving forward because now they know what it tastes like, they know what they need to do to better and I think the team has tried to address some holes [this offseason]. With gained experience and each player a year older and more experienced, there’s no excuses for them to not do better this year.”

The 2022-23 edition of the Cavaliers finished 51-31 during the regular season before then falling to the New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs. In that five-game playoff defeat, the Knicks twice managed to win on the Cavaliers’ home court.

Price’s own experience during his stellar NBA career offers him the credibility to make such an assessment. He knows the frustration of not advancing in the postseason, with Michael Jordan’s legendary Chicago Bulls teams the chief cause of that feeling.

The inability of the Cavaliers to get past those Jordan teams might also help explain why Price’s name is seemingly not mentioned when it comes to great guards of the past.

Yet, former Cavaliers superstar LeBron James, who during his formative years watched Price play, is one player who considers the former guard underrated.

That relative obscurity might otherwise relegate Price to being forgotten among future generations. However, the popularity of the NBA 2K video games has made younger people more aware of his skill in shooting a basketball.

Price was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks in the second round of the 1986 NBA Draft and traded to the Cavaliers on draft night. That particular draft helped energize the Cavaliers in the years ahead, with the team also acquiring Brad Daugherty and Ron Harper.

In Price’s nine seasons with the Cavaliers, he averaged 16.4 points, 7.2 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game. That shooting ability manifested itself with a career shooting percentage of 47.2 percent, including 40.2 percent from beyond the arc over 12 total campaigns.

For good measure, Price was also virtually automatic from the free-throw line, connecting on 90.4 percent of his attempts during his overall career. That unsung skill helped him lead the league in that department three different times.

Despite the fact that Price last played for the Cavaliers nearly 30 years ago, it’s clear he still holds a special place in his heart for the team.

Price has maintained a connection with Northeast Ohio by conducting basketball skills camps this summer. Those attendees are getting a close-up look at a player who made his mark in the NBA.

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Brad Sullivan is a lead writer for Cavaliers Nation. He has spent much of life in the Cleveland, Ohio area, and has remained a Cavalier fan from their 1970 beginnings through the return of LeBron James. While that fandom was sorely tested during the Reign of Error known simply by one word, Stepien, that overall historical perspective will be part of his writing for Cavaliers Nation in the months ahead.