With a record of 18-3 in the new year, it’s safe to say the Cleveland Cavaliers are one of the best teams in the NBA. With Donovan Mitchell leading the charge, the Cavs have exceeded all expectations and have positioned themselves as a real contender for the 2024 NBA Finals.

With one of the best defences in the league and solid offensive efficiency, the roster seems almost built for a deep playoff run; the only thing they are missing is postseason experience.

In this article, we will be taking a deep dive into the Cavs roster, looking into what makes the team so successful and whether this level of play can be sustained.

NBA Leading Defence

The Cleveland Cavaliers have had one of the best defences all year long, but in the new year, they have taken it to the next level, holding teams to under 106 points per game. There are a number of reasons for this, from individually strong defensive players to a solid overall defensive scheme.

To start, Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley really hold it down inside. The duo may not block the most shots, but they really kill teams on the boards, with both players averaging over 10 rebounds per night. Unless you’re someone like Rudy Gobert, you’ll be hard-pressed to get an offensive rebound.

Not only that, but Allen and Mobley both have some surprising lateral quickness, with Mobley, in particular, being one of the better overall defenders in the league. They have size, athleticism, and strength down low to hang with the best of them.

Now, let’s talk about the perimeter defenders because they have also been putting in some real work. From cutting passing lanes to simply hounding opposing teams as they come over half-court, Cleveland’s guards understand how strong their presence in the paint is and take full advantage of it.

Instead of worrying about getting beat to the basket if they accidentally overplay a passing lane, they attack offensive players, knowing they always have solid help.

If you sit behind the arch, the guards are more than fast enough to contest any shot, and if you take it to the basket, you’ll be met with imposing big men – what are teams supposed to do?

Strong Back-Court

We have plenty of great things to say about Cleveland’s front-court defence, but we seriously cannot overlook their back-court. The pairing of Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland has worked great, with both guards averaging solid numbers that have led to wins.

At the end of the day, it’s also Donovan Mitchell’s team – the guard has finally found some real success and is playing at a near MVP level. Mitchell has been averaging 28.4 points on the season on fantastic 60.3% true shooting, carrying his team when it matters most.

Garland also fits perfectly with Mitchell, as he seems more than comfortable letting Mitchell get his shots in and continue to be the ball-dominant guard he is. That’s not to say Garland isn’t scoring on his own either, because he is sitting at over 18 points per game.

If you sag off of Mitchell, he torches you, and if you give him space, he’ll quickly outlet Garland or one of his big men. There’s not much you can do to stop this back-court.

Multiple Scoring Options / Bench Depth

Outside of star players, Cleveland has been making the most of its bench, with several solid pieces putting up decent numbers every night. From Dean Wade picking up the slack when Evan Mobley was injured to Caris LeVert’s 14.4 points per game off the bench, Cleveland has an overall great roster. 

Max Strus has also made a significant impact, averaging 12.2 points in 32.3 minutes per game, showcasing his scoring prowess. Defensively, Isaac Okoro and Georges Niang have been crucial, with Okoro averaging 1.9 steals per game and Niang providing a defensive presence with 0.8 blocks per game.

Overall, the Cavaliers’ bench unit has been instrumental in maintaining momentum and providing valuable contributions every single night, including scoring, defence, and playmaking. Cleveland’s depth has been a key factor in the team’s success this season, making them a formidable opponent for any team in the league.

Are the Cleveland Cavaliers Real Contenders for the NBA Championship?

Many of us slept on the Cleveland Cavaliers for most of the season, but they have emerged as one of the most formidable rosters in the NBA right now. With just one glance at their 18-3 record since the beginning of 2024, you can understand that this team will likely go on a deep playoff run as long as the injuries don’t pile up.

As I mentioned, the Cleveland Cavalier’s defence is also simply top-notch, with no holes inside or out. They don’t really have any liability players on the defensive side of the ball, and the guards are more than comfortable jumping into passing lanes, knowing Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley are sitting in the paint.

Outside of maybe the Boston Celtics or a healthy Milwaukee Bucks, it’s hard to see many teams beating the Cavs in a seven-game series. It’s safe to say the majority of Cleveland fans weren’t expecting this, especially with how trashy their sports team usually are, but the Cavaliers are really something this season.

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