The Cleveland Cavaliers are trying for a traditionally very difficult feat in the NBA. Yes, sure, much has been made of the team going to the playoffs without LeBron James for the first time this century.
But the Cavs aren’t just hoping to make the playoffs. The fourth seed in a talented Eastern Conference, the Cavaliers are looking at a deep postseason run.
The only problem? The Cavs are a) quite young, b) have little collective playoff experience, and c) as a result, are still working out the kinks of trusting one another.
As JB Bickerstaff noted following the Cavs’ OT win over the Celtics, the team simply has to settle for “blindly trusting” one another for now.
“This team is all about trust and sometimes trust comes from blind trust,” Bickerstaff said, per Jason Lloyd of The Athletic. “No track record of experience in big games, big moments, whatever it is. But that’s how teams become great teams is because they have a blind trust for one another that they’re just going to do what’s right. … That’s what this team is continuing to work on is that level of trust. Because typically that trust comes from those shared experiences, but we don’t have those shared experiences yet.
Until the Cavs have more shared experiences, “blind trust” will simply have to do.
“So now we have to blindly trust one another,” Bickerstaff concluded.
Over the next few weeks, the Cavaliers will get plenty of opportunities to prove to one another that each member trusts the next.
While that trust may arrive, Cleveland’s inexperience is something that will follow no matter how far the Cavs go.
Multiple Cavs Sound Off on Playoff Inexperience
The Eastern Conference playoff race appears to have crystalized around three teams: the Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, and Philadelphia 76ers.
Indeed, though the Cavs have the fourth-best odds to win the conference (+1400), they are significantly longer than the conference’s three heavyweights, which range from +135 to +750.
Much of that doubt stems from the Cavs’ collective inexperience. It’s something multiple Cavaliers players have discussed recently.
“[Outsiders] looked at us as a young team, and you don’t expect a lot from a young team,” Jarrett Allen told ESPN’s Tim Bontemps last week. “You expect them to come in and try to figure themselves out.
“But I feel like we came in and made an impact on the league,” Allen finished.
Donovan Mitchell also chimed in on his expectations for Cleveland, despite whatever inexperience the team may have.
“Obviously, it’s no secret that we lack the experience,” Mitchell said, per Chris Fedor of cleveland.com. “When people talk, we’re not in their top 3 or whatever it is, and that’s fine, but the biggest thing for us is we believe we can not just make the playoffs but make a deep run. It’s all a learning experience and about continuing to get better, so, when we get to the playoffs, whatever seed we are, we’re ready.”
Mitchell Trash Talk Secures Cavs Win?
Against the Celtics on Monday, the Cavs needed two sets of overtime to secure victory, despite Al Horford and Jayson Tatum both resting.
As the game came down to the wire, Mitchell admitted to exchanging words with Celtics big Grant Williams, who went to the free throw line late with the chance to ice the game.
The Cavs All-Star told reporters after the game that he told Williams he should miss one free throw so the two would have something to talk about on a Players Association call on Thursday. Both Mitchell and Williams serve on the Board of Player Representatives.
“He gave us both, but I didn’t box out Marcus Smart for the tip and that’s what I’m thinking about,” Mitchell said. “Thank God he missed ’em and we got the win.”
The Cavaliers take on the Miami Heat tomorrow in what should be another conference showdown.