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Cavaliers early playoff exit highlights issues

The flaws of the Cleveland Cavaliers were on full display in their first round playoff exit, highlighting what improvements are needed.

It was abundantly clear early in their playoff series with the New York Knicks that the Cleveland Cavaliers were overmatched. The Cavs issues went from maybe being a problem, to being a full blown catastrophe. It became a matter of when the Cavaliers would be eliminated not if, and that is a big problem.

One issue that became apparent almost immediately was a lack of depth. Cleveland was simply not built to withstand a playoff series. Only going seven deep in the rotation is simply not sustainable in the postseason. Sure, it can win some games in the regular season, but that is a different animal entirely. In order to actually have a chance come playoff time, it is necessary to have a bench full of capable players and the Cavs simply do not have that.

Another clear problem was physicality. While Cleveland was able to impose their will in Game 2, the other four games left a lot to be desired. Being out-rebounded and out-hustled time and time again is not a way to advance in the playoffs. Jarrett Allen looked incredibly ordinary when matched up with New York’s Mitchell Robinson and that is a problem. The Cavs have invested a lot of financial resources in Allen and need him to be the guy they thought they were getting. If Allen is a guy who is only a regular season force and disappears in the postseason that would be a major roster issue moving forward.

There is a good portion of Cleveland’s failures that fall on J.B. Bickerstaff and Koby Altman. Bickerstaff did not appear to have the team ready for this matchup with the Knicks and Altman did not necessarily put together the best group of players for a playoff run. While calling for the jobs of Bickerstaff and Altman is premature, a repeat of this next season would have their job security in question.

What needs to be considered when evaluating the Cavaliers premature end to their postseason is that they were not built for a deep run this season. This was the stepping stone from play-in team to playoff team, the acquisition of Donovan Mitchell prior to the season seemed to point towards a fast forwarding of their team building process. There is a positive to this though. The fact that Cleveland can now truly evaluate who is and who is not part of their future of their non-starter types. An almost complete overhaul of their bench for next season is required and should be the top priority this offseason. Adding complimentary type pieces who do not overlap skill-wise or positionally can make it so their next postseason run can last more than just five games.

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