Cleveland Cavaliers still trending upward despite recent struggles

Evan Mobley, an NBA Most Improved Player candidate, with Darius Garland(Photo by Soobum Im/Getty Images)
Evan Mobley, an NBA Most Improved Player candidate, with Darius Garland(Photo by Soobum Im/Getty Images) /
Cleveland Cavaliers
CLEVELAND, OHIO – MARCH 14: Evan Mobley #4 celebrates with Darius Garland #10 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during player introductions prior to the game against the LA Clippers at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on March 14, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Cavaliers were on a reasonable pace for 50 wins prior to the NBA All-Star break. They held a 35-21 record in early February and felt poised to hit their stride with the acquisition of another shot creator in Caris LeVert.

Then, the team hit fell into their biggest slump of the season.

Cleveland has gone just 6-9 since the break with many of their losses coming in sluggish, uninspiring performances. The team that was once in competition for the East’s top seed is now jockeying to stay out of play-in position, with the seven-seeded Toronto Raptors only 1.5 games behind them.

In spite of their recent struggles, key players on the roster have continued to show incredible growth as the future remains bright in Cleveland.

The Cleveland Cavaliers should not feel discouraged by recent losses as the young core continues trending in the right direction.

Starting with the frontrunner for rookie of the year, Evan Mobley appeared to be hitting the infamous “rookie wall” during late January and early February. Mobley was then left to anchor the paint on his own in March with his frontcourt partner Jarrett Allen out indefinitely due to injury.

Since Allen’s injury, Mobley is averaging 20.0 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.6 blocks, and 1.6 steals on 54.2 percent shooting from the floor. His defensive presence has made all the difference and the Cavaliers are now 15-5 when Mobley records a double-double.

More importantly, his offensive game is beginning to sprout. Mobley recorded a career-high 30 points on 13-for-22 shooting against the LA Clippers and is quickly building chemistry as a pick-and-roll guy next to Darius Garland.

Speaking of the first-time All-Star, DG has kicked things into another gear since mid-February. The 22-year-old guard is posting 26.5 points and 9.5 assists on 47/40/90 shooting splits over his last 13 games.

Garland has had multiple masterful games where he first sets up his teammates for easy looks before erupting in the scoring department in the fourth quarter. Just look at his career-high, 41-point performance in Indiana where he scored 31 points in the second half to give Cleveland a three-point victory.

Finally, there is Isaac Okoro, who is shooting a surprising 39.0 percent from the three-point line since February. He’s averaging 11.3 points in the month of March and is continuing to provide gripping perimeter defense all the while.

Okoro is often seen as the missing piece to Cleveland’s core and his recent, albeit marginal, improvements on offense are something to be excited about.

Overall, the Cavaliers might be dealing with numerous growing pains as they look to keep their heads above water down the stretch of the season, but reasons for optimism continue to shine through.

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