The Cleveland Cavaliers are having a terrific 2021/22 NBA season, led by one of the biggest Coaches of the Year candidates, J.B. Bickerstaff. He has found the perfect mix between youth and experience to take this team to the top-4 in the Eastern Conference.
The East's level has gone up this season, with teams like the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat improving their roster, while old candidates like the Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks keep competing to earn one of the top seeds this season.
Even though they are playing with juggernauts for a chance to finish within the four best teams in the conference, the Cavs haven't backed down to any challenge, which has taken them to this privileged position. Even though key players like Collin Sexton or Ricky Rubio went down with injuries this season, the 2016 NBA champions remain competitive.
Darius Garland, one of their biggest figures, has been balling this season, helping his squad reach high spots on the leaderboard. Talking with Shams Charania on Stadium, the guard discussed a variety of topics, including his expectations for the second half of the campaign, as well as the chance to lead a non-LeBron James team to the postseason for the first time since 1998.
Garland is pretty confident in his team and wants to send a message this season. They want to write their own story on the Cavs without dragging LeBron's name to it.
"Me and Kevin Love, we really just had this conversation a couple of days ago. Just having our own legacy without having anything with ‘Bron to do with it, that would be pretty cool. And then having a playoff run without Bron for that long, that's pretty amazing. Then just having the city behind our back, this city has been waiting for this for a long time, so making the playoffs will mean a lot for the city of Cleveland and the Cavs organization."
Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen, Lauri Markkanen, the injured Sexton, and Rubio, all have contributed to the Cavs' success at this stage of the season. They know the job isn't done and without getting the attention that the favorites in the conference get, they're doing their thing, climbing positions, being only 1.5 games away from the top spot in the East.
Cleveland fans finally have reasons to be excited about their team following LeBron's second departure in 2018. The Cavs have found a couple of gems in recent years, and if they keep developing, we could see this team competing for championships again in the next five years or so.
LeBron has been linked with a move back to Cleveland given the Los Angeles Lakers' recent struggles, but he doesn't think that's necessary. Besides, knowing how bright the future looks for the Cavaliers, they must be thinking of future glories instead of the old moments they lived when The King was still in town. Still, if somehow he manages to return to Ohio, it seems like he'll have a pretty good chance at winning another championship. Yet, this is a long shot right now.