In recent seasons, the Cleveland Cavaliers have become synonymous with LeBron James. The greatest player of his era not only leads the Cavaliers’ team stats, but also won the NBA Championship with them in 2016. Without James, the Cavaliers’ success was few and far between.
In terms of betting, the Cavaliers tend to be underdogs on the NBA odds board. Even when James played with Cleveland, NBA fans were on board mainly for him. The moment he left town, support for the team dwindled outside of its most diehard base.
Team Ranked Stats
Cleveland Cavaliers' All-Time Records
LeBron James, 23,119
Cleveland Cavaliers Stats & Team History
The Cavaliers joined the NBA in 1970 as an expansion team. The franchise was terrible in its first few seasons, even with Bill Fitch as the coach. Cleveland improved during the 1974-75 season, with Austin Carr leading the team. The Cavs made the NBA playoffs the following season.
During the Carr-Fitch era, the Cavaliers had several winning seasons. Once Cleveland regressed, they endured subpar seasons until the mid-80s. During the 1986 NBA Draft, Cleveland acquired the likes of Brad Daugherty, Mark Price, and Larry Nance.
The trio became the nucleus for an ascending team. With Lenny Wilkens taking over coaching duties, the franchise posted its first winning season in a decade.
With Wilkens in charge, the Cavaliers had three seasons with 50+ wins. One of them, the 1991-92 season, marked a high point in the franchise. Cleveland upset the Celtics and reached the Conference Finals for the first time. However, they lost to Michael Jordan’s Bulls.
In fact, Cleveland was eliminated by Chicago five times between the 1987-88 to 1993-94 postseasons. One of them happened in the first round in 1989 when Michael Jordan hit “The Shot”. Cleveland lost to Chicago as the higher seed, and it haunted the franchise, as they never defeated Chicago in a playoff series until 2010.
By the mid-90s, Cleveland’s core started to age and the team went into a rebuild until 2003. The franchise won the NBA Draft Lottery and selected the hometown phenom: LeBron James from Akron, Ohio.
With James, the Cavaliers instantly became a contender. He won the Rookie of the Year and became an All-Star the next year. In 2005, Dan Gilbert became the Cavs’ majority owner. He hired Mike Brown as head coach and Cleveland returned to the playoffs.
With James, the Cavaliers won at least one playoff series. He led them to the NBA Finals in 2007, but then suffered upset losses against Boston and Orlando in the subsequent postseasons.
In 2010, in what famously became known as “The Decision”, James publicly announced through a TV program his departure from Cleveland to Miami. In the four years after James’s departure, Cleveland performed terribly and frequently had high draft picks.
The Cavaliers drafted Kyrie Irving with the 2011 first overall pick, then traded another, Andrew Wiggins, for Minnesota’s Kevin Love. With the rebuilt roster, James returned to the Cavaliers. He led them to four consecutive NBA Finals, winning one in 2016.
Irving departed in 2017 and James in 2018. The Cavs have again rebuilt, but have started becoming a formidable franchise with young stars like Evan Mobley and Darius Garland.
Cleveland Cavaliers FAQs