How long has it been since the Cleveland Cavaliers were in the playoffs? A few years, yes, but it definitely feels a lot longer with all the circumstances the team has had to go through. Ramon Sessions, Jamario Moon, and the old Antawn Jamison have gradually turned into Kyrie “Uncle Drew” Irving, LeBron “King” James, and Kevin “Uncle Wes” Love. To put it in another perspective, this time of the year the past few seasons, all Cavs fans had to think about was who to draft in the lottery. Now, we have the luxury of pondering on which team the Cavs could possibly meet in late April even up until June. We take a look at the Wine & Gold’s most intriguing possible playoff opponents.
10 – Milwaukee Bucks
The Milwaukee Bucks have surprised everyone with their strong play this season. They even upped the ante by showing stronger guts in trading away their best player amidst a looming playoff run. A series against the Bucks could become a “trap” if the Cavaliers underestimate their opponents but this portrays to be more of a mental challenge to Cleveland as the team tries to display some killer instinct in the playoffs.
Fearless forecast, Cavaliers would sweep the Bucks.
9 – Brooklyn Nets
It`s always dangerous to face a veteran team in the playoffs. They know the tricks in the book and they play physical. Such is the case for the Brooklyn Nets who boast of playoff tested veterans at their forefront in Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson, Thaddeus Young, former Cav Jarrett Jack, and Deron Williams. That being said, the Cavaliers stand to gain tons of experience points if they are able to overcome the old Nets.
Nets could steal two games at best for the Cavaliers to finish them in six games.
8 – Detroit Pistons
For the Detroit Pistons, letting go of Josh Smith opened up a huge window of opportunity for the young frontline of Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe to grow together while trading for Reggie Jackson gave the team an electrifying guard with invaluable deep playoff experience. The Cavaliers have already exorcised the ghost of Pistons past but the Motown boys are in a good position to re-live those hard fought playoff battles with Cleveland, not necessarily this year but what they could achieve here is a good first step towards that goal.
End result, Pistons are too inexperienced to make it past five games against the Cavaliers.
7 – Charlotte Hornets
The Charlotte Hornets is a team that’s built for the playoffs. Despite having a slightly disappointing run so far, this team, especially when healthy, has the tools to give the Cavaliers problems. They have an elite post presence in Al Jefferson and a wily but effective court general in Kemba Walker. Also, if Lance Stephenson is able to regain his mojo from last season then his matchup against LeBron James could prove to be an interesting sight once again. Who knows, maybe he won’t just blow in James` ear this time.
Cavaliers could have a tough six-game series with one or two blowouts but they`d still end up the victor.
6 – Toronto Raptors
The Toronto Raptors have already passed the point of being an up and coming team. Now, they are looking to take their claim at the top of the Eastern Conference. A rejuvenated Kyle Lowry should give Kyrie Irving a run for his money as the top point guard in the series while Demar Derozan could arrange a meeting with LeBron James up in the clouds. The Cavaliers can`t sleep on the Raptors because as competitive as they are, this crew has playoff experience as a unit.
Raptors can get the ball moving well so the Cavaliers could finish them in six games at least.
5 – Indiana Pacers
If things go well for the Pacers, they could end up parading Paul George in the playoffs and that exponentially makes them a better team. Forget about their seeding, a complete Indiana Pacers team could present a very exciting but troublesome matchup for Cleveland. Who doesn’t want to see a Paul George-LeBron James battle anyway? However, if PG-13 is unavailable, the Pacers are still a very tough-minded defensive team who`s also playoff-tested. Also, Kyrie Irving still has to get that first win in Indianapolis.
With PG-13, Cavaliers in six. Without PG-13, Cavaliers in five.
4 – Miami Heat
A possible matchup against the Miami Heat, sans Chris Bosh, would still be an interesting one with the storyline behind it. A lot of fans probably wanted a piece of Miami in the playoffs when the Cavs were still in the mix last season but, obviously, things are different now with a certain 4-time MVP back on our side but with a looming matchup against Dwyane Wade who now has the team all to himself, again, expect these two future hall of famers to go back and forth at each other which would make for another classic duel.
Cavaliers would feed off the emotional high of LeBron to sweep the Heat.
3 – Atlanta Hawks
Not only does Atlanta hold the Eastern Conference’s best record, and is likely to stay that way till the regular season ends, they also look to pose a more difficult challenge to Cleveland than others because of the way they move the ball. This series, possibly happening in the East Finals, should also be an excellent simulation in case the Cavs go up against the defending champion Spurs in the NBA Finals due to Coach Mike Budenholzer’s San Antonio pedigree. The Cavalier defense will definitely be put to a test when they meet up against the Hawks.
The Hawks could take the Cavaliers to the distance but the good guys are too good to fall prey.
2 – Washington Wizards
Cleveland and Washington go a long way in the LeBron James era having shared a number of tough playoff series in the past. We weren’t spared of interesting moments either from LeBron’s friendly advice to Gilbert Arenas while at the line, LeBron and Deshawn Stevenson’s word war, and Damon Jones’ one shining moment. Fortunately for us fans, the heated tradition look to continue with James’ biggest rival Paul Pierce now in DC and Kyrie Irving set to burn rubber against John Wall.
The Cavaliers should be too well-oiled come May that the Wizards` pixie dust won`t get Wall and Co. past six games.
1 – Chicago Bulls
The Cleveland Cavaliers could possibly meet up with the Chicago Bulls in the late stages of the playoffs. The Bulls’ wins against the Cavs pushed them over Washington on this list. With or without Derrick Rose, Chicago has proven that it can play with the big boys night in and night out as the “Thibs School of Hard Knocks” has gotten the best out of each and every Bull. Jimmy Butler has prided himself as a LeBron stopper and we all know how Joakim Noah loves Cleveland. Besides, it’s good ol’ Central Division rival Chicago.
They could end up in a very hard fought six-game war with the Cavaliers wielding their mighty sword when the dust settles.