|NBA||02/01 00:10||-||MIA Heat vs CLE Cavaliers||-||View|
|NBA||02/03 00:30||-||CLE Cavaliers vs MEM Grizzlies||-||View|
|NBA||02/05 22:00||-||IND Pacers vs CLE Cavaliers||-||View|
|NBA||02/07 00:00||-||WAS Wizards vs CLE Cavaliers||-||View|
|NBA||02/09 00:00||-||CLE Cavaliers vs DET Pistons||-||View|
|NBA||02/11 03:00||-||NO Pelicans vs CLE Cavaliers||-||View|
|NBA||01/30 00:00||-|| LA Clippers v CLE Cavaliers ||W||99-122|
|NBA||01/28 01:00||-|| CLE Cavaliers v OKC Thunder ||L||100-112|
|NBA||01/27 01:00||-|| CLE Cavaliers v HOU Rockets ||W||113-95|
|NBA||01/25 00:30||-|| CLE Cavaliers v NY Knicks ||L||103-105|
|NBA||01/22 00:30||-|| MIL Bucks v CLE Cavaliers ||W||102-114|
|NBA||01/21 00:30||-|| GS Warriors v CLE Cavaliers ||L||120-114|
|NBA||01/19 01:00||-|| CLE Cavaliers v MEM Grizzlies ||L||114-115|
|NBA||01/16 20:00||-|| NO Pelicans v CLE Cavaliers ||W||103-113|
|NBA||01/15 01:00||-|| CLE Cavaliers v MIN Timberwolves ||L||102-110|
|NBA||01/13 03:00||-|| CLE Cavaliers v POR Trail Blazers ||W||119-113|
|NBA||01/11 02:00||-|| CLE Cavaliers v UTA Jazz ||L||114-116|
|NBA||01/09 01:00||-|| CLE Cavaliers v PHX Suns ||W||112-98|
The Cleveland Cavaliers (often referred to as the Cavs) are an American professional basketball team based in Cleveland. The Cavaliers compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the league's Eastern Conference Central Division. The team began play as an expansion team in 1970, along with the Portland Trail Blazers and Buffalo Braves. Home games were first held at Cleveland Arena from 1970 to 1974, followed by the Richfield Coliseum from 1974 to 1994. Since 1994, the Cavs have played home games at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in downtown Cleveland, which is shared with the Cleveland Monsters of the American Hockey League. Dan Gilbert has owned the team since March 2005.
The Cavaliers opened their inaugural season by losing their first 15 games and struggled in their early years, placing no better than sixth in the Eastern Conference during their first five seasons. The team won their first Central Division title in 1976, which also marked the first winning season and playoff appearance in franchise history, where they advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals. The franchise was purchased by Ted Stepien in 1980. Stepien's tenure as owner was marked by six coaching changes, questionable trades and draft decisions, and poor attendance, leading to $15 million in financial losses. The Cavs went 66–180 over the course of those three seasons and endured a 24-game losing streak spanning the 1981–82 and 1982–83 seasons.
George and Gordon Gund purchased the franchise in 1983. During the latter half of the 1980s and through much of the 1990s, the Cavs were a regular playoff contender – led by players such as Mark Price and Brad Daugherty – and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals in 1992. After the team's playoff appearance in the 1997–98 season, however, the Cavs had six consecutive losing seasons with no playoff action. Cleveland was awarded with the top overall pick in the 2003 draft, and they selected LeBron James. Behind James and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the Cavaliers again became a regular playoff contender by 2005. They made their first appearance in the NBA Finals in 2007 after winning the first Eastern Conference championship in franchise history. After failing to return to the NBA Finals in the ensuing three seasons, James joined the Miami Heat in 2010. As a result, the Cavaliers finished the 2010–11 season last in the conference, enduring a 26-game losing streak, the second-longest in NBA history. Between 2010 and 2014, however, the team won the top pick in the NBA draft lottery three times – first in 2011 where they selected Kyrie Irving, and again in 2013 and 2014.
After four seasons with the Heat and having won back-to-back titles in the 2011–12 and 2012–13 seasons, James returned to the Cavs in 2014 and led the team to four straight NBA Finals appearances. In 2016, the Cavaliers won their first NBA Championship, marking Cleveland's first major sports title since 1964. The 2016 NBA Finals victory over the Golden State Warriors marked the first time in Finals history a team had come back to win the series after trailing, 3–1. The Cavaliers have 22 playoff appearances and have won seven Central Division titles, five Eastern Conference titles and one NBA title.
The Cavaliers began play in the 1970–71 season as an expansion team. They set losing records in each of their first five seasons before winning their first division title in 1976. The 1976 team was led by Austin Carr, Bobby "Bingo" Smith, Jim Chones, Dick Snyder, Nate Thurmond and head coach Bill Fitch. It was remembered for the "Miracle at Richfield," in which the Cavaliers defeated the Washington Bullets, 4–3, in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. They won Game 7, 87–85, on a shot by Snyder with four seconds to go. The Cavaliers moved on to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time, but were without Chones after he broke his toe before the series opener. As a result, the Cavaliers went on to lose, 4–2, to the Boston Celtics. They made playoff appearances in the following two seasons before a six-year playoff drought.
The early 1980s were marked by Ted Stepien's ownership. During Stepien's tenure, the Cavaliers made a practice of trading future draft picks for marginal veteran players. His most notable deal sent a 1982 first-round pick to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Don Ford and the 22nd overall pick in 1980. As a result of Stepien's dealings, the NBA introduced the "Stepien Rule," which prohibits teams from trading first-round draft picks in successive seasons. The Cavaliers went 66–180, dropped to the bottom of the league in attendance and lost $15 million during Stepien's three years as the owner. The Cavs went through six coaches during this span, including four during the 1981–82 season. The team finished 15–67, and between March and November 1982, the team had a 24-game losing streak, which, at the time, was the NBA's longest losing streak. George and Gordon Gund purchased the Cavaliers from Stepien in 1983.
The Cavaliers made the playoffs 10 times between 1985 and 1998. The 1988–89 seasons was the Cavaliers' best season to date, finishing the regular season at 57–25 with a team that included Brad Daugherty, Mark Price, Ron Harper and Larry Nance, and head coach Lenny Wilkens. They had their second 57-win season in 1991–92 and reached the Eastern Conference Finals that year. However, between 1999 and 2005, the Cavaliers failed to make a playoff appearance. The Cavaliers finished the 2002–03 season 17–65, tied for the worst record in the NBA.
The Cavaliers had the No. 1 pick in the 2003 NBA draft, selecting future NBA MVP LeBron James, a native of nearby Akron. On January 3, 2005, the team was sold to businessman Dan Gilbert for $375 million, and the deal was finalized on March 1, 2005. That year, the team also hired head coach Mike Brown and general manager Danny Ferry. The Cavaliers built a team around James and Žydrūnas Ilgauskas by adding players such as Drew Gooden, Larry Hughes and Anderson Varajao. Under this new leadership, the Cavaliers made five straight playoffs from 2006 to 2010, advancing to at least the second round each time. The 2006–07 Cavaliers advanced to the franchise's first NBA Finals, but were swept by the San Antonio Spurs. The 2008–09 Cavaliers won a franchise-record 66 games, including a franchise-best 39–2 record at home, but lost the Eastern Conference Finals to the Orlando Magic. Despite the addition of four-time NBA champion Shaquille O'Neal, the 2009–10 Cavaliers were unable to return to the Eastern Conference Finals after losing to the Boston Celtics in the second round.
With the Cavaliers out of the playoffs, the focus turned to James' impending free agency. On July 8, 2010, James announced in a nationally televised one-hour special titled The Decision that he would be signing with the Miami Heat. The repercussions of this announcement left many in the city of Cleveland infuriated and feeling betrayed. After a 19–win season in 2010–11, the Cavaliers began a rebuild around Kyrie Irving, whom they selected first overall in the 2011 NBA Draft.
In 2014, James returned to the Cavaliers after four seasons in Miami. While the Heat had a 224–88 record during James' four-year tenure and won NBA titles in 2012 and 2013, the Cavaliers went 97–215 and missed the playoffs each season. The Cavaliers made several moves to build a championship-contending team around James, most notably acquiring power forward Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves, which created what many fans and media referred to as a "Big Three" with James, Love and Irving. The Lebron-led Cavaliers made four consecutive Finals appearances from 2015 to 2018 – all against the Golden State Warriors – winning in 2016. The 2016 NBA Championship marked the Cavaliers' first title in franchise history, as they became the first team to come back from a 3–1 deficit to win the Finals. It was also Cleveland's first championship in major professional sports since the 1964 Browns, signaling the end of the so-called Cleveland sports curse.
The Cavaliers' roster went through many changes in the 2017–18 season, most notably the trade of Irving to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Isaiah Thomas and other assets. Thomas was later traded to the Los Angeles Lakers as part of a trade deadline overhaul that saw the Cavaliers add Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. (son of Cavs legend Larry Nance) and others. The following offseason, James declined his player option to rejoin the team, instead signing with the Lakers. In the following two seasons, the team recorded only 19 wins and failed to make the playoffs.
In the first three seasons since James left the second time, the Cavaliers won a total of 60 games, missed the playoffs each season and have had four different head coaches: Tyronn Lue, Larry Drew, John Beilein and current head coach J.B. Bickerstaff.
In the 2021–22 season, the Cavs finished 44–38 and eighth in the Eastern Conference, and qualified for the NBA Play-In Tournament, marking the first time the team played in the event. This also marks the team's first postseason basketball since 2017–18 and the first time a non-LeBron-led team qualified for postseason play since 1997-98. The team, however, didn't make it out of the Play-In Tournament, losing the 7-seed vs. 8-seed game to the Brooklyn Nets and the 8-seed vs. 9-seed game to the Atlanta Hawks, ending their season.