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The surging Cavs prove they have several worthy All-Stars

Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavs are just 1.5 games out of first place in the Eastern Conference, as Jarrett Allen (left), Evan Mobley and Darius Garland have had All-Star performances so far this season.

LeBron James and Kevin Love were the last Cavs players to make the NBA's All-Star team. The year was 2018. It was also the last season the Cavs had a winning record.

Now in year four of the post-LeBron James era, the Cavs are finally putting together the pieces. They have a 31-19 record as of Wednesday, and are just 1.5 games out of first place in the Eastern Conference.

They've exceeded everyone's expectations. In fact, Terry Pluto predicted they would go 30-52 this season.

The reason? A young team that won just 22 games last season.

Everything is clicking
Yet, everything is clicking. And Pluto points to several moves general manager Koby Altman made in the past year that have made the difference.

First was drafting Darius Garland. The 22-year-old was selected fifth by the Cavs in 2019. He had a disastrous rookie season.

"I wondered if he was just [going to be] a role player or if he was even going to be in the league in three years," Pluto said. "But when they come in at the age of 19, usually they're overwhelmed. So it took him a couple years to figure it out. Now he reminds me of Mike Price."

"The Cavs suddenly went from a deplorable defensive team in the last three years to ranked No. 3 defensively in the NBA."
Terry Pluto

Pluto says the Cavs are also playing unconventional basketball by having three 7-footers: Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley and Lauri Markkanen.

"The Cavs suddenly went from a deplorable defensive team in the last three years to ranked No. 3 defensively in the NBA. It goes against how the NBA likes to market itself — high scoring, everybody shooting from Lord knows where. It's a different style," Pluto said.

The Cavs should have two All-Stars
Cleveland hosts this year's All-Star game Feb. 20. No Cavs players have been named starters following the fan vote. But Pluto hopes NBA coaches vote Garland and Allen to the reserve squad. Reserves will be announced Thursday.

"If you look at their record and you base it on this season, they should be," Pluto said.

And he says Mobley should be named the NBA's Rookie of the Year. He, along with Isaac Okoro, have been named to the Rising Stars game during All-Star weekend.

Can they keep it up?
As the Cavs hover around the top of the Eastern Conference standings, Pluto wonders about their durability. Colin Sexton and Ricky Rubio are out for the season with injuries, and Markkanen is out with a high ankle sprain. Garland also missed a game this week with a sore lower back.

"You're watching players like Lamar Stevens and Dean Wade and other players from the G League come up and help. What happens when your team starts to be good is you can take some of these 'role players,' and they have a part to fill," Pluto said.

And, he says the good news for Cavs fans: Mobley, Allen and Garland are under contract for several more years.

Amanda Rabinowitz has been a reporter, host and producer at WKSU since 2007. After serving as WKSU's Morning Edition host for a dozen years, she moved to afternoons in March of 2022 to become the local host of All Things Considered. In addition to providing local news and weather, she interviews Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com for a weekly commentary about Northeast Ohio's sports scene called The View From Pluto. She also hosts and produces Shuffle, a podcast focusing on Northeast Ohio’s music scene.