Why the Cavaliers' Recent Stretch Means So Much More than 18 Wins

The Cavaliers' recent hot streak has rocketed them up the standings and gotten national buzz. More than anything else, though, they have been a joy to watch.

Feb 14, 2024; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Evan Mobley (4) brings the ball up
Feb 14, 2024; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Evan Mobley (4) brings the ball up / Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

We play sports for lots of reasons. Some of us do it to stay in shape. Some do it because competition gives us a rush. Depending on the sport we choose, sports can provide us with camaraderie or solitude.

We all have our reasons for watching sports, as well. Most of us enjoy the drama and the distraction from our real lives, and we appreciate the talent on display. Some of us watch because we have money riding on the outcome. Others have a favorite team that they are emotionally invested in.

On rare occasions, though, sports can give us something more compelling than that for participants and spectators. Every so often, a team or an individual reaches an elevated state of play where everything they do works, and the outcome is a cool experience that athletes will go to extremes to capture it again.

As fans, the closest we get to being in the zone, so to speak, is watching an athlete or team experience it, but even that is pretty cool.

On the rare occasion when talent, chemistry, execution, effort, and luck come together, as they have with the Cleveland Cavaliers over the past 20 games, it is so much fun to watch that we can pretend this isn't the same franchise that drafted Anthony Bennett.

When the current NBA season ends, how the Cavs have played over the last 20 games will pale in significance to what happens in the playoffs.

So let's start by putting it in those terms -- by winning 18 out of 20 games, the Cavs have put four games between themselves and the fourth-place Knicks and are 4.5 games ahead of fifth-place Philadelphia.

That matters because if the Cavs finish in the top three in the Eastern Conference, they will miss the 76ers and Knicks in the first round and won't see the Celtics unless they reach the conference finals. So, if nothing else, this hot streak has put them in a position to have an easier path in the postseason.

But there's something more we should take away from this stretch, whether it ends after the All-Star break or carries through to a deep playoff run. We should take away an appreciation for the sheer beauty of what this team has given us to watch.

Sure, Donovan Mitchell is a stealth MVP candidate, and Jarrett Allen has been an absolute beast in all aspects of the game, but more impressive is how cohesive the team has been on both ends of the floor, no matter who is playing.

There were moments during the LeBron years when the Cavs reached this level of artistry, but that always seemed based on whether everyone else on the floor could keep up with LeBron, not actually on an entire team playing as one. Those who remember the Brad Daugherty-Mark Price teams in the 80s will recall a flow to the offense at its best, much like what we have seen this year, but less so on defense.

Is it too brazen to say these guys are playing better than either of those franchise icons ever did? Again, we can't answer that until May and June because that's what matters in the NBA. However, the last 20 games have been as much fun to watch as any stretch in memory.

More Cavaliers news and analysis: