After years of futility, the Cleveland Cavaliers have finally taken a 180 degree turn and are showing no signs of regressing. The Cavs are now fighting for playoff position atop the Eastern Conference and with what’s ahead in terms of the team’s schedule, each contest looks to give us a better idea on how the team will stack up in the playoff seeding picture. The Cavs only have a handful of games remaining and we have selected ten contests that we should look forward to the most, starting with number 10:
10 – April 13 vs. Detroit Pistons
The Detroit Pistons are among the teams fighting for the final two playoff spots which means that they could end up being the Cleveland Cavaliers’ first round opponent. They made major tweaks to their lineup by adding playoff tested players such as Reggie Jackson and Tayshaun Prince. In their first meeting after the trade deadline deals, they gave the Cavaliers a good fight and it took eight threes from Kevin Love for the Cavs to steal a win at The Palace. A win by Cleveland to close off their season series should take away any false sense of confidence that the Pistons may have against them.
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9 – March 18 vs. Brooklyn Nets
Consider this game as a sparring session against another possible first round foe in the Brooklyn Nets. Deron Williams has started to elevate his game a bit and this makes the Nets a dangerous opponent being the veteran team that they are. Even the mighty Golden State Warriors fell victim to the Nets in their last outing so the Cavaliers cannot sleep on this team.
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8 – March 16 @ Miami Heat
It’s Miami, so the storylines surrounding this matchup are aplenty. They did beat Cleveland in the Cavs’ last visit to South Beach so winning a game in Miami should still be on LeBron James’ 2014-15 bucket-list. The Heat will also parade their new star point guard in Goran Dragic giving the team a whole new different dynamic which the Cavaliers and Kyrie Irving will try to solve when they visit South Beach.
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7 – March 7 vs. Phoenix Suns
Despite losing Goran Dragic and Isiah Thomas in separate deals, the Suns are still packed with fuel for their high octane offense that only adds heat to the team from the desert. Eric Bledsoe is now entrusted with bigger responsibilities and along with Brandon Knight, they should give Kyrie Irving a workout defensively which should be good to further sharpen Irving’s defensive teeth in time for the playoff battles.
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6 – April 15 vs. Washington Wizards
Aside from the fact that it’s Fan Appreciation Night, seeing Paul Pierce go up against LeBron James and John Wall versus Kyrie Irving is always a treat even if the players aren’t at full speed and they’ll probably play limited minutes only. Plus, it’s Fan Appreciation Night. So this one’s for us.
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5 – April 5 vs. Chicago Bulls
There’s a good chance that the Bulls will be missing Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler in this contest but Coach Thibs always seems to get the most from his players regardless. Pau Gasol is always a problem given the Cavs’ limitations in defending the block so Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson will once again have their hands full. However, every challenge like this is an opportunity to improve in certain areas which would serve them well for the postseason wars.
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4 – March 25 @ Memphis Grizzlies
The Cavaliers did beat the Grizzlies convincingly in their first matchup, but the Memphis atmosphere will take no prisoners when the Cavs pay a visit. Also, the first encounter between these two teams were prior to the arrival of J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Timofey Mozgov so this is a different Cavalier team that will measure up against the old school, smash-mouth style of the Grizzlies.
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3 – March 20 vs. Indiana Pacers
Another possible first round opponent, the Pacers are expected to have Paul George by this time making their record look incredibly deceiving as PG-13 takes Indiana to a different level. But even without George, the Cavaliers will still be facing a very tough and hard nosed opponent as their playoff core has been fairly intact and that still makes the Pacers a dangerous opponent. On paper, their top players stack up well against the Cavaliers’ stars and that is just the tip of the iceberg. Surprisingly, Indiana has won two of the three matchups with the Cavs this season.
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2 – March 10 @ Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks boast of an unpredictably predictable offense due to the genius of Rick Carlisle and such scheme stands to be quite a challenge for the Cavaliers defensively. The veteran Mavs are a deep and talented team that’s capable of pulling the rug under the top teams so the Cavs are up for a real test. Matchups to watch are Kyrie against Rondo, Dirk against Love, and scrappy centers Tyson Chandler bodying up against Timofey Mozgov.
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1 – March 12 @ San Antonio Spurs
It’s going to be a grudge match in Texas as Cleveland will look to avenge their early season loss to San Antonio. This game will also feature a number of notable matchups led by LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving and Tony Parker, JR Smith and Manu Ginibili, and Kevin Love against Tim Duncan. The Spurs are still the measure of excellence in today’s NBA and the Cavaliers are eager to have their revamped lineup tested against the defending champs.