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The ties between the Cavs and the Rockets highlight Cleveland’s rapid and impressive rise to the competition

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Cleveland, Ohio – Their masthead titles read like the middle section of a Venn Chart.

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Ties counting: Cavaliers head coach JB Bickerstaff coached the Rockets for 71 games after Houston fired Kevin McHale in 2015 (Bikerstaff later withdrew his name from consideration for the full-time vacancy). Cleveland once saw Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. , who drafted him 30th overall in 2019, as a cornerstone of the franchise before he was a porter. Arrested for weapons charges. And eighteen months ago, the Rockets and Cavs stood on flat ground — the bottom — as they drafted second and third overall, respectively, in the 2021 NBA Draft.

Jalen Green or Evan Mobley: Who can get their struggling franchise back to respect first?

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The resemblance between the two teams seems distorted going into Thursday’s game in Houston. And Cleveland (29-20), with a career-high 49 wins, is vying for home court advantage in the Eastern Playoffs. The Rockets (11-36), who are on a combined 62 wins over the past three seasons, are in a four-way competition with Detroit, Charlotte and San Antonio for the best lottery-drawing odds. repeatedly.

This is not an exercise in Houston fans believing Green over Mobley. Cleveland gains nothing by running victory laps around a distant cousin in the Western Conference. Instead, this retrospective is a look at the Cavs’ position.

The Rockets are where Cleveland – and most teams 1.5 years removed from an ugly lottery-related season – ought to Lives. The Cavs’ stark rise is an anomaly. And as they move toward a situation of serious contention and the stakes are high, consider this your reminder to enjoy the journey and remember where you started.

Down there at The Bottom, the rockets are still stuck in the starting block. They work their way through their growing pains. Veteran shooting guard Eric Gordon, the only survivor from the Western Conference Finals in Houston in 2018, is tired of waiting for youngsters to grasp winning basketball.

“…it’s a way of thinking,” Gordon said earlier this month. “You have to play for each other. Do what’s right by your teammates. If you do that, it’s more fun. You give yourself a better chance of winning.”

Dynamic young men Porter and Green want to win, but they also want to get their name out there. They are the only players with utilization rates above 25% while promising men Alperen Sengun and Jabari Smith Jr. Both are still below 20% – a bad combination for morale.

Stephen Silas, the first-time head coach who spent 20 years with the opportunity, heralds better habits for a roster of 12 players ages 24 and under. The results, as expected, are mixed. As a result, questions remain Job security for Silas Because of the results he can’t always control.

They look miserable, which is exactly why the Cavs seem so happy to skip that stage of rebuilding. They did it through a series of clever trades, acquiring Jarrett Allen as an underhanded part of James Harden’s four-team trade between Brooklyn, Utah and Houston (another link!) two years ago. Then they bagged picks and picks for former Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell last summer.

Since then, Cleveland’s rebuilding process has been firmly rooted in its honeymoon phase. Four seasons after he left, the Cavs have finally found a sustainable way LeBron James identity less. Joy teeters around every corner, like when Mobley scored a career-high 38 points Saturday against Milwaukee just 24 hours after the Cleveland Cup. They showed their immaturity at a loss to individuals Golden State.

The best part: Cleveland’s success is still fresh enough to be enjoyed rather than expected. So far.

But at some point—during the next playoffs, the offseason, or sometime shortly thereafter—Cleveland’s joy won’t feel as pure. Fans and the front office will not be satisfied with “winning” as a catch-all term. They will expect more, demand more, and change people to extract more.

It happens quickly. Eighteen months ago, Cleveland stood as equal to the Rockets—links counting. Now they have six months to enjoy their success before it gets serious?

The Cavs will tell you it really is. They don’t just want to make the playoffs; They want to make noise when they get there. But maybe standing next to canine canine rockets again can remind them how far they’ve come. Perhaps watching Houston juggle between good and bad habits will highlight just how difficult this journey has been.

Maybe they’ll realize: This could be us.

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