The Cavaliers are playing important games late into the season again for the first time in years, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.
At 20-37, the Cavaliers are 3.5 games behind the Bulls for the tenth seed in the East. Should Cleveland make up that ground, the team qualify for the play-in tournament this season. This would be the club’s first postseason berth since making the NBA Finals in 2018.
“We have guys who have not, I want this to come across the right way, but have not played meaningful games down the stretch in an NBA season,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “Obviously we have our group of guys who have played in the playoffs and those types of things, but we have young guys who haven’t experienced meaningful games at the end of a season.”
“We’re all in this cluster,” Cleveland guard Darius Garland said of the competition among the Cavaliers, Bulls, Raptors and Wizards for the final play-in spot. “Every game matters right now. They’re in the cluster with us… They’ve got the 10th seed right now, they’ve got the target on their back.”
There’s more out of the Central Division:
- The Pistons have played their hand as they focus on the future, opting to start their young players, writes Rod Beard of the Detroit Free News. At 18-40, Detroit is 0.5 games behind the Magic for the worst record in the East.
- New Bulls starting power forward Daniel Theis concedes that he was surprised to be traded by the Celtics to Chicago, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. The deal “definitely caught me off guard,” Theis confirmed. Currently on an expiring $5MM deal, Theis will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
- James L. Edwards of The Athletic assesses the most exciting prospects on a developing Pistons roster, starting with a trio of rookies led by 22-year-old rookie Saddiq Bey, the No. 19 pick in the 2020 draft out of Villanova, tops the list thanks to his floor as a three-point-shooting wing capable of defending multiple positions.