These days, just getting to the playoffs isn’t enough. The Cavs also want home-court advantage in the first round, as relayed by Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com.
That means finishing with a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference.
The good news is, the Cavs are currently in fourth, trailing just the Bucks, Celtics and 76ers. They are also trying to hold off the fifth-seeded Knicks, who had won nine straight as of Sunday night.
“I think that’s something that’s sought after a lot in this league,” center Jarrett Allen said about home-court advantage, via Fedor. “I’ve never had it, so I don’t know how important it is, but from what I hear, everybody is clamoring over it. I think it’s important.”
Allen has been to the playoffs once — as a member of the Nets in 2018-19. Fellow starters Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Isaac Okoro have never made it. Oh, neither has J.B. Bickerstaff as a head coach.
So when it comes to teams with younger cores, home-court advantage in the playoffs counts for a lot. Just ask Donovan Mitchell, the lone starter with extensive playoff experience.
“You want home court,” Mitchell said recently, via Fedor. “I have had home court maybe two out of my five years and there’s a difference for sure.”
That said, as important as home-court advantage may be, they say that a playoff series doesn’t really start until “someone wins a road game.”
The Cavs will want to remember that once they get there, too.
“I think we’re capable of being a championship team,” Mitchell said, via Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “I think the biggest thing for us, obviously it’s not a secret, is that we lack experience. When people talk about we’re ‘Not in their top three,’ or whatever it is, that’s fine.
“I think the biggest thing for us is we believe we cannot just make the playoffs, but make a deep run, and this is all, like I said, a learning experience. …
“It’s about continuing to get better, so, when we get to the playoffs, whatever seed we are, we’re ready.”
- Mitchell is questionable for the Cavs’ home game Monday vs. the Celtics. He exited Saturday’s blowout win over the Pistons with a sprained finger. It is not believed to be serious, but it all depends on whether the team decides it needs rest. As for Mitchell, he’d prefer to play. He took part in Monday’s shootaround.
- Seven of the last eight games between the Cavs and Celtics have been decided by less than 10 points.
- Cleveland has won an NBA-best 28 games by 10 or more points. The Cavs (40-26) are one of just five teams with 40 or more wins.
- Allen ranks fifth in the league and second in the Eastern Conference in field-goal percentage (.652 percent).