The Cleveland Cavaliers were embarrassed by the New York Knicks.
The Cleveland Cavaliers won 51 games in the 2022-2023 NBA season. They were able to land a top player in Donovan Mitchell. They saw Evan Mobley take the next step in his development. They were able to make the playoffs without LeBron James since the 1990s. They were also able to clinch home-court advantage in the playoffs.
With all these things the Cavs have accomplished, you’d think it’d be obvious to say that the Cavs had a successful season. Yet, the New York Knicks came to town and smacked around the Cavaliers so badly that the reputation of this team is shot to hell.
The Knicks proved, pretty easily, that there’s a huge disparity between the Cavs and the top of the East.
And why wouldn’t it be? The Cavs lost three straight games to the Knicks, in contests the Cavaliers were never truly in. They failed to break 100 points in four of the five games. They were brutalized in ways that made the game unwatchable, and it really shouldn’t have been. The Cavaliers got bounced like they didn’t belong in the playoffs against a very average Knicks team.
When you lose so badly, to such an average team, it’s impossible to say the 2022-2023 season was a “successful” one. Yes, they accomplished all these things, but when truly tested, they folded. Had it been a close series, that’s one thing. But the Cavs were blown out in three straight and had it not been for some out-of-this-world shooting, would’ve lost in four. This was the worst-case scenario that no one thought would actually happen.
The Cleveland Cavaliers 2022-2023 season was an abject failure
The Cavs were the worst-scoring team in the NBA playoffs while they were still involved. They couldn’t hit their shots, they chucked up garbage and they were bullied by the Knicks all series long. That’s part in part why the season failed.
While you could argue making the playoffs is some moral win, it’s also important to note that the Cavaliers had loftier expectations. Eastern Conference Finals or Bust was the battle cry of many fans. So not just losing, but getting blown out, hurts the Cavs’ reputation. If your team takes a ding in reputation with your loss, it affects how the season is seen.
Sadly, the Cavaliers just didn’t have the offensive scoring or the pace of play efficiency to get the wins they needed
Instead, they got overwhelmed by a Knicks defense that swallowed the Cavaliers’ offense and whatever the team was trying to do. So, instead of a team with a clear plan, it became completely about players waiting to chuck up a shot to very mixed results.
Clearly, it didn’t work. The team averaged just 94.2 points per game in the post-season, and couldn’t find anyone off the bench worth using to help generate some offense.
This led to the Knicks’ series damaging the reputations of Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Jarrett Allen, and somehow Evan Mobley as well. The Cavs’ core four looked pedestrian at best since none of them worked together. Especially on offense, as the bigs were often ignored by the guards in offensive situations. Whether that was due to either terrible playcalling or their own decision-making freezing out the bigs is up for debate.
Regardless, with the talent this team had, as well as the expectations the fandom had, it’s fair to say that not only did the Cavs fail to meet or surpass those expectations, they outright underperformed.
Changes may need to be made.