With the Cavaliers‘ schedule drop this week, all eyes went to the win-loss projections.
And suffice to say, some Cavs fans might be left scratching their heads.
The sports betting site FanDuel placed Cleveland’s win-loss projection at 41.5.
Okay, at least that total is up from the paltry 26.5 that experts pegged for the Cavs heading into last season.
Here’s why the Cavs have an excellent shot at beating that total.
Clean Bill of Health
As a brief reminder, the Cavaliers won 44 games last season.
It was the largest “over” number of wins from the preseason projection in the NBA.
And let’s talk about a few things working against the Cavaliers last season.
11 games into the season, starting two-guard Collin Sexton went down with a season-ending injury.
Nonetheless, the Cavs still paced the Eastern Conference, hanging tough.
Then, backup Ricky Rubio also went down with a season-ending injury.
That loss stung, but it wasn’t the end of the world, either.
Cleveland showed an impressive resiliency, one that convinced the front office to pull the trigger on a move for Pacers swing Caris LeVert.
While admirable, it wasn’t a move Cleveland likely would have made had Rubio stayed healthy.
Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen both missed key time down the stretch.
It was simply two injuries too far.
Cleveland survived without their star players, but when their twin towers went down, the floodgates opened.
At the All-Star Break, Cleveland was on pace for 49 wins.
And yet they still managed 44 wins and a Play-In berth.
Why can’t the Cavs do the same next season?
Or *whispers* even better, especially if they bring back Collin Sexton to boost their average offense and keep everyone healthy.
Are the experts counting out Darius Garland, chalking up last year’s meteoric rise to a fluke?
It’s tough to see how a full offseason together wouldn’t benefit the entire team, especially LeVert, who struggled to find a rhythm after he was thrown in during the middle of the season.
It sounds simple, but it looks like the experts want the Cavs to prove it yet again before buying in fully.
Yet the same prove-it expectations haven’t been extended to other teams, like the Atlanta Hawks.
National TV games for the #Cavs this season:
– 2 on TNT: Dec. 6 v. Lakers, Feb. 2 v. Grizzlies
– 3 on ESPN: Feb. 10 @ Pelicans, Mar. 1 @ Boston, Mar. 15 v. 76ers
– 4 on NBA TV: Nov. 7 @ Clippers, Dec. 26 vs. Nets, Mar. 10 @ Heat, Mar. 21 @ Nets
— Evan Dammarell (@AmNotEvan) August 17, 2022
While the Hawks brought in Spurs star Dejounte Murray, the club massively underperformed last season.
Everyone seems to have the Hawks penciled into at least the second round of the playoffs (including a 45.5 win-loss projection), but they too must prove it.
Murray’s never been on a big stage and Trae Young isn’t always the best teammate to play with.
Add in the ever-brooding John Collins and perpetual front office turmoil, and what’s left?
A team that has to prove it before we can believe it.
The Eastern Conference is arguably the best it’s been in a decade.
For the last few years, the conference has been driven by stars — LeBron on the Cavs and Heat, Giannis Anteokounmpo on the Bucks, Jimmy Butler on the Heat.
But there’s a real feeling of parity this season.
That started last year with the rise of the Boston Celtics.
For the #Cavs abroad Lauri Markkanen just had 42 points and 9 rebounds in an overtime win for Finland over Ukraine.
— Evan Dammarell (@AmNotEvan) August 18, 2022
But heading into 2022, the conference just feels deeper.
The Cavaliers are part of that depth.
The team sent two All-Stars to the midseason festivities last season, with a third (Mobley) likely on the way.
In fact, in Garland, Mobley, and Allen, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Cavaliers have a top-five big three.
That’s a bold claim, but so be it.