CLEVELAND — For the first time in the 21st century, the Cavaliers are going to the playoffs without LeBron James.
After the Cavs defeated the Houston Rockets 108-91 on Sunday night, Cleveland secured a top six spot in the Eastern Conference. These six avoid the four-team play-in tournament to decide the numbers 7 and 8.
Center Jarrett Allen posted a season-high 24 points, tacked 14 rebounds and three blocked shots, and All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell added 22 points as the Cavs (48-28) officially got their ticket to the postseason against the Rockets (18-1). -) solved. 57).
“When I came here, my expectation wasn’t just to make the playoffs,” Mitchell told the Beacon Journal. “It’s about going for a run, never being satisfied and finding ways to keep running and win that championship.”
Cleveland Cavaliers rotation: Cavs look for bench production as shuffles at the end of the rotation
Donovan Mitchell’s highlight reel dunk: Cavs All-Star Guard goes into poster-making business against Brooklyn Nets
The Cavs are comfortably in line for the No. 4 seed and home field advantage in the first round. The Milwaukee Bucks (53-21), Boston Celtics (52-23) and Philadelphia 76ers (49-25) are up for the top three seeds.
“The clinching isn’t my concern. It’s home court,” said Mitchell, who has made the playoffs in each of his six NBA seasons, the first five with the Utah Jazz.
“You never want to undermine all the small goals. You want to appreciate every little thing on the way up. But I’ve done it before for the same reason. So for me it’s like, ‘Okay . Let’s go home.'”
Cavs star endorses Ravens QB Lamar Jackson:Do we really care who does Donovan Mitchell endorse in another pro sport? | George M.Thomas
It’s the first time the Cavs have made the playoffs since 2018. It’s also the first time the Cavs are in the playoffs without James since 1998, when Shawn Kemp, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Wesley Person led Cleveland.
“I think that’s important to the Cavaliers’ progression — to be where we want to be, to be one of these top teams,” Allen said. “That’s huge.”
Shawn Kemp and the Cavaliers:More than 25 years ago, The Reign Man came to Cleveland
In the opening round, the Cavs face the New York Knicks (42-33, fifth in the East), Brooklyn Nets (40-35, sixth) or Miami Heat (40-35, seventh).
Of the top six teams in the East, only the Cavs have a losing record — 18-20 compared to 30-8 at home.
Cleveland’s magic number for home field advantage is two.
“I think it would be a huge advantage for us,” said Cavs coach JB Bickerstaff.
Nate Ulrich can be reached at [email protected]. On twitter: @ByNateUlrich.
This article originally appeared in the Akron Beacon Journal: The Cavs win the NBA playoffs without LeBron for the first time since 1998