By: Danny Cunningham
The city of Cleveland has faced a drought unlike any other. December 27th marked 50 years since any professional team in the city won a championship.
During their curse, Cleveland has dealt with incredible tragedy.
The Drive, The Fumble, The Shot, The ’07 ALCS Collapse, The Decision…. Just to name a few. Clevelanders fought through all of these heartbreaking moments just to keep coming back. Fans of the Indians, Cavaliers, and Browns had always dreamt of brighter days in a city that seemed to be eternally doomed.
And then, things changed. The Return happened on July 11, 2014.
Things were finally looking extremely bright for the city of Cleveland and the beloved Cavaliers. LeBron had returned to join budding superstar Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love was on his way to form what was thought to be the perfect ‘Big 3’.
Not. So. Fast.
The first half of the season saw the Cavs become one of the streakiest teams in the NBA.
They would lose four out of five, and then go on and rip off eight in a row. This team didn’t make sense. David Blatt was on the hot seat, Kevin Love was rumored to be ready to jet out of Cleveland, and LeBron was beat up, and did not look like the LeBron of old. Things just were not right.
The Cavs then left Cleveland for their usual west coast road trip, and panic ensued.
LeBron was out, and Cavs fans everywhere were asking “What the hell happened those brighter days in June, July, and August?”
Just when Cavs fans thought things couldn’t get any worse they did. On January 13, the Cavs slipped below the .500 mark. No one EVER envisioned the Cavaliers below .500 at all this season, let alone on January 13th.
During their six game losing streak out west that dropped them below the .500 mark, there were some positive things that occurred. Three of them to be exact.
JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Timofey Mozgov were those positive things, and they changed the Cavs season.
Smith and Shumpert were acquired in a three-way trade involving New York and Oklahoma City. Dion Waiters was shipped out, and a new supporting cast for LeBron James began to take place.
Days later, the Cavs shipped out two first round pics to Denver for Center Timofey Mozgov. Mozgov quickly has become a staple of Cleveland’s (formerly non-existent) interior defense. With the addition of Mozgov, the Cavaliers have become an entirely different team.
Days after Mozgov, Shumpert, and Smith were all brought aboard in Cleveland, LeBron returned form his two week injury break. LeBron’s first game back was in the loss to the Phoenix Suns that dropped the Cavaliers below .500, but since then Cleveland has been the hottest team in the NBA.
This team really started to roll. If fans had lost faith in the Cavs, it was quickly restored during their 12 game winning streak.
Other fans, such as myself had not lost the faith. I actually vowed to myself that I would not go into panic mode until after the All-Star break. Since the All-Star break has come and gone the panic is no longer necessary.
In the 20 games since the loss to Phoenix, the Cavaliers are 18-2, and their record now sits at a very healthy 36-22.
The Cavaliers have been at the top of the league in most, if not all categories, and this team has looked to be on a mission. LeBron James has been one of the best players in the NBA since his return from injury.
In a span of 20 games the Cavaliers have turned things around from the NBA’s biggest disappointment to the Eastern Conference’s best chance to bring home the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Oh, how times change.
LeBron is back to his MVP caliber self, and the Cavs are now exactly what we thought they would be, the best team in the Eastern Conference.
Cleveland fans finally have something to smile about again.
featured image via ibtimes.com