The surging Cleveland Cavaliers have clinched their first playoff spot since the departure of LeBron James. It’s the first time they’ve made the playoffs without him since 1998.
The Cavs clinched the spot courtesy of a 108-91 win over the Houston Rockets in a typically well-balanced performance which saw no player score more than 24 points. The win took their record to 48-28.
Cleveland has safely locked away home court advantage, too, with a six-game buffer over the New York Knicks with as many games remaining in the regular season meaning something extraordinary would have to go wrong for them to fall out of the top four. With the Philadelphia 76ers just a couple of games ahead of them, however, there is certainly scope for the Cavs to jump up another spot into third over the next few games.
It’s a significant achievement for a team that, this century, has been largely defined by LeBron James. With him in the team they were a consistent presence in the upper echelons of the Eastern Conference, culminating in their Championship in 2015-16 but both times that he has left they have dropped rapidly.
When LeBron moved to Miami at the conclusion of the 2009-10 season, they went from first in the East to 15thin the space of a season. When he came back they went from tenth to second. Fast forward a few years, and after losing the NBA Finals to the Warriors in 2017-18, they dropped to 14th the next year after he took to Los Angeles.
At long last, however, they are a playoff-quality side that isn’t led by LeBron James. With a backcourt of Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland, the length of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen and some capable names coming off the bench, this is a team which is every bit worthy of their spot towards the top of the East, and come playoffs time, they will be a tough team to beat over seven games.
The post Cleveland finally gets out of LeBron James’ shadow with playoff triumph appeared first on ClutchPoints.