LeBron stole the show, but today’s Cavs have room to grow

For just about nearly every young, talented team with the makings of something greater, there comes a breakout moment.

Stephen Curry’s 54-point game at the Garden in 2013 not-so-quietly raised the ceiling of what might be possible with Golden State, which broke the 50-win mark the following season before winning it all one year after that. Ja Morant and the young Grizzlies — now a force — took the painful experience of losing a play-in game in the 2020 bubble before going on the road and taking down the Warriors on that stage last year to earn the West’s last spot.

All of which brings us to this year’s Cavs — a club that, as LeBron James’s homecoming thoroughly illustrated Monday night, is trying to establish itself as something more than the first decent Cleveland roster in two decades that James wasn’t a part of. Monday’s 131–120 loss to the Lakers notwithstanding, these Cavs — 41–31 and fighting to avoid being in the East’s play-in — own the NBA’s fifth-best defense and had surprisingly led their conference in net rating for the vast majority of the season, up until early last month. They even had two All-Stars when the game was played in Cleveland in February.

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