The Cleveland Cavaliers are the team that surprised the world this year. Even though other teams, such as the Bulls and the Grizzlies, also exceeded expectations, the Cavs are really what took the NBA by storm. Right now, the Cavs are sitting at a 41-32 record, something no one could have seen before the season began. Even though most of their wins came in the first half of the season, they are right to believe that they can make some noise in the playoffs. However, they might be prepared to do even more than make noise. Here are three reasons why the Cavs will make and win the 2022 NBA Finals.
Reasons why the Cavs will win the 2022 NBA Finals
The reason why the Cavs had many doubters before the season was clear – they are a young team. The Cavs are led by the likes of Jarrett Allen, Darius Garland, and Evan Mobley, all under the age of 23. Of course, they had Collin Sexton too, but he fell down with a season-ending injury in November, therefore he will not be available for the postseason. Yet, even without Sexton, the Cavs had some incredible stretches of basketball and proved to the world that they are here and they will be a problem in the postseason. Their young squad set out to show that even without much playoff experience behind them, they can still be a force in the East.
Primarily, that is due to the fact that they have the energy to fight and tussle, something that could be an issue for other teams as the season progresses and they enter into the postseason. Generally, players with more mileage not named LeBron James can suffer from burnout in the postseason, playing less efficient basketball and potentially endangering their team. Of course, it does not have to mean that a player with a lot of experience will run out of gas, but for the younger players of the Cavs, energy should be of no issue. They will be ready to fight tooth and nail for a deep playoff run.
Already going through a ton of adversity
Now, the playoffs are a great experience for any player or team, but they are also a tough place. There can be a lot of issues, due to the fact that playoff series are won and lost on singular plays or one or two poor games by one player. We all remember how JR Smith’s error in the first game of the 2018 NBA Finals left the Cavs without a shot, even though they could have snatched that first game versus the mightly Golden State Warriors. Answering that adversity can be so tough for many teams and going through it earlier in the season can make a group unite more around a common goal for the squad. This Cavs team has had its share of adversity before and during this regular season.
Firstly, there was a ton of talk about the situation of Kevin Love before the season. That surely did not help team chemistry, but all sides were able to benefit from exiting that period, and Love is now a valid contributor to this team. Secondly, the team lost two major players to season-ending injuries. In November, Sexton fell with a torn meniscus and that was bad enough for the Cavs. However, bad came to worse when in late December, Ricky Rubio tore his ACL and he was ruled out for the season as well. Of course, he was later traded to acquire Caris LeVert, but his input on this team was unmatched. Both of these things can be counted as adversity and the Cavs seemed to exit it with more strength and determination. Thus, it is fair to say they should do well in the postseason.
There is one repeated mantra around the NBA that rings very true, even to this day – defense wins championships. It is always repeated by analysts, especially as we enter the postseason period and we look at teams that might challenge for the title. The Cavs fit into that mantra in a fantastic manner, as they boast the fourth-best defense in the league, judging by the defensive rating metric of Basketball Reference. However, their defense is much more than the defensive rating. They also boast some amazing numbers that are near the top of the league in other categories as well.
Right now, the Cavs are third in opposition scoring per game, conceding just 104.8 points per contest. Taking a deeper dive into league rankings will also tell us that the Cavs rank seventh in opposition field goal percentage, allow the fifth-least three’s to the opposition, rank sixth in rebounds and second in defensive rebounds allowed, and they lead the league in both free throws made and attempted by the opposition. The Cavs put a lot of emphasis on defense and it is working out for them, and that is key. If they manage to lock teams down in the postseason, they can grind their way to very high highs. While most would predict a second-round exit, there is no reason to doubt that this Cavs team could even make it all the way.