Cleveland Fans Should Turn Their Attention to Cavaliers With Playoffs Looming

Cleveland Cavaliers v Sacramento Kings
Cleveland Cavaliers v Sacramento Kings / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

Above anything else, the city of Cleveland is a football town. When the Browns have a home game, especially if the Ravens or Steelers are in town, the city decks itself out in brown, orange, and dawg memorabilia.

When it’s football season, there’s a different energy across the city. However, since they returned to Cleveland in 1999, the Browns have only posted four winning seasons and three playoff appearances.

In 2017, the Browns became the second team in NFL history to go winless, joining the 2008 Detroit Lions. That historic 2017 season followed a 2016 campaign where the Browns went 1-15. Cleveland loves the Browns even if the Browns don’t always reward the city for their fandom. 

The 2023 season was a tumultuous one for the Browns as they went through five different quarterbacks, yet somehow, some way managed to go 11-6 and capture a wildcard spot. Unfortunately, the Browns fell flat on their face as they were completely dismantled by the Texans 45-14 in the wildcard round.

Now that the 2023 NFL season is in the books, fans should turn their attention to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, where the Cavaliers have put themselves in prime positions to make the playoffs. Since Cleveland is a Browns town first, it doesn’t feel like the Cavs have gotten the proper respect they deserve.  

Back in 2016, the Cavaliers were one-third of the Cleveland Championship trifecta. The other thirds were Stipe Miocic, a native of Cleveland, who captured the UFC Heavyweight Championship at UFC 198 and when the Lake Erie Monsters, now called the Cleveland Monsters, won the Calder Cup.

As they made their historic run to the Larry O’Brien Trophy, the Cavaliers only lost five playoff games: two in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Toronto Raptors and three in the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors. Stipe started the championship run on May 14, followed by the Monsters on June 11, and then the Cavs capped it off on June 19. 

Following that special championship run in 2016, the Cavs would lose to the Warriors in the NBA Finals in 2017 and 2018 before resetting from 2019 to 2021. The fans were still coming to RMFH to support the Cavs, but it still felt like the Browns were in the spotlight.

Beginning in 2022, the Cavs have experienced a resurgence as they reached the Play-In Tournament, went out and acquired Donovan Mitchell in a trade with the Utah Jazz, and then promptly captured the No.4 seed in the 2023 playoffs before losing to the No. 5 seed Knicks in Round 1.

This season, the Cavaliers have vaulted themselves into the top three of the Eastern Conference standings. They’re currently second in the East, but the Bucks and the Knicks are right on Cleveland’s heels, so it will be a dog fight down the stretch.

The Cavs have been putting up strong attendance numbers throughout the 23-24 campaign; the Cavs are eighth in the NBA in attendance right now according to ESPN at 19,313. Despite the Cavs once again putting themselves in a position to contend, the city doesn’t seem to reflect the same energy towards them as they do for the Browns.

With so many key matchups on the docket this month, the city of Cleveland needs to put its Browns energy into the Cavaliers.  

Throughout March, the Cavs will be welcoming many of the league’s best players and best teams into RMFH. On March 3, Jalen Brunson and the hobbled Knicks come to town, giving the Cavs an important chance to take the season series. On March 5, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and the Celtics will show the Cavs how close they are to being true championship contenders. Last season, the Cavaliers won the regular season series 3-1 against the Celtics.

Then, Anthony Edwards, Karl Anthony-Towns, and the top-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves visit Cleveland on March 8. The Phoenix Suns come to RMFH on March 11 with Kevin Durant, who’s a generational talent and a selling point himself, and Devin Booker. Jimmy Butler and the defending Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat come to Cleveland on March 20. They always seem to round into form when it gets closer to postseason time. Finally, Tyrese Maxey and the Philadelphia 76ers on March 29, and the Sixers lead the season series 2-1.   

Mitchell is the team leader in points (28.0), assists (6.2), and steals (1.8) for the Cavaliers for the 23-24 season. This season, I’ve had the opportunity to be out on the concourse during a majority of the Cavs home games and Mitchell’s is the most common jersey.

I see fans wearing No. 45 jerseys and when fans come to make posters at my station, oftentimes they will write something about Mitchell or they’ll create a picture of a spider since his nickname is “Spida.” The Cavs have a star that fans can get behind.

Cleveland has always been a big sports town, but when football season comes around there’s a different type of energy in the air. Despite the fans’ dedication, the Browns have rarely given them something to cheer about. It seems like just about every Browns season ends with a losing record, except for a handful when they defy the odds, finish above .500, or sneak into the playoffs.

A lot of the Cavaliers' winning seasons occurred when a certain King was wearing No. 23 in wine & gold. But even then, except for the championship run in 2016, the Cavs experience is confined to the court. On the flip side, the Browns experience goes beyond the field and onto the concourse, streets, and throughout the entire city.

The Cavs are set for a big March and they’re poised for a deep playoff run; hopefully, they’ll gain some of the city’s energy to carry them.

In other Cavs news: