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The Cavaliers underwent a rough January that goes beyond the 6-8 record (30-20 overall) they posted. They lost Kevin Love with a hand injury, which could keep him out through March. Before that, Love missed a practice and was the subject of an internal team drama. New guard Isaiah Thomas, expected to rescue the team upon his return early in the month, instead has been a dud, averaging 15.4 points on 36.3 percent shooting. And, for good measure, a rumor has popped up suggesting that star forward LeBron James could meet with the Warriors when he hits free agency this summer.

But history has told us to hold off on the panic button. Cleveland has been here before, undergoing some existential crisis or other that seems to open a pathway for a rival to get past them in the postseason and make their way into the Finals. Yet the Cavs have won out every time, with a daunting 36-5 mark in the East playoffs the last three springs.

This season may be different. The problems surrounding this team go much deeper than those of the recent past. But the Cavs have always managed, and they’ve now won three of their last four games. Taking a look back at how the Cavs bounced back after each of their low points in the last three years gives some hope, at least, that Cleveland is headed for an upswing.


2015-16 Cavs

Dates: Nov. 14-Dec. 5

Record: 5-6

Net rating: minus-0.3 (102.5 offensive, 102.8 defensive)

Bounceback: 14-2

Net rating: plus-10.6 (108.5 offensive, 97.9 defensive)

Upshot: There wasn’t much that was remarkable about this bad stretch for the Cavs, which started with a double-overtime loss at Milwaukee in the second half of a back-to-back. It ended after a three-game losing streak, including a loss at Miami that James skipped because of rest. (James created a meaningless media stir by wearing a “Miami Winners” hat in his postgame interview the previous night.)

Cleveland bounced right back to its winning ways after the Miami game, but that was not the end of the intrigue for this season: On Jan. 22, after a win over the Clippers brought the Cavs to 30-11, coach David Blatt was fired. Still, the Cavs rallied to win the franchise’s first championship.


2016-17 Cavs

Dates: Jan. 4-Jan. 25

Record: 4-7

Net rating: minus-5.0 (105.4 offensive, 110.4 defensive)

Bounceback: 10-2

Net rating: plus-10.5 (118.1 offensive, 107.6 defensive)

Upshot: This was the most dramatic of midseason slumps, because at the tail end of it — following a loss to New Orleans, which was playing without star Anthony Davis — James sounded off to the media, complaining that the team was “top-heavy” and lacking enough talent to repeat as champions. He told the team’s beat reporters that, “We need a f—ing playmaker.” This came shortly after the Cavs had wrung out their last few assets in order to obtain Kyle Korver from Atlanta.

The Cavs did play well immediately after their slump, though they continued to struggle into March and April. In the end, they returned to the Finals and were knocked out by the Warriors in five games.


2017-18 Cavs

Dates: Dec. 19-Jan. 25

Record: 4-11

Net rating: minus-8.3 (105.8 offensive, 114.0 defensive)

Bounceback: 3-1

Net rating: plus-5.3 (106.8 offensive, 101.5 defensive)

Upshot: Four games does not quite qualify as a rebound, and the three wins were at home against middling East teams Indiana and Detroit, and a difficult win over the Heat on Wednesday. Cleveland has a six-game stretch before the All-Star break that should better indicate where the Cavs are because they’ll have home games against Houston and Minnesota and roadies against Orlando, Atlanta, Boston and Oklahoma City.

 

Dave is the Creator and Editor-in-Chief for The Benchmob. He primarily writes about Soccer, the NBA, esports, and Pop-Culture.