Cleveland Cavaliers, professional basketball team and one of eight teams in the Central Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The Cavaliers play in Gund Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, and wear jerseys of blue, orange, and white.
II NOTABLE ACCOMPLISHMENTS
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, behind the play of All-Stars Brad Daugherty, Mark Price, and Larry Nance, Cleveland recorded 57 wins in two separate seasons, advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals in 1992. Other notable players in the teamís history include Nate Thurmond, Bingo Smith, Campy Russell, John Johnson, and Austin Carr.
III FRANCHISE HISTORY
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Along with the Portland Trail Blazers and Buffalo Braves, the Cavaliers were one of three expansion teams to join the NBA in 1970. Under head coach Bill Fitch, Cleveland finished the season with a 15-67 win-loss record, the leagueís worst. Cleveland drafted guard Austin Carr in 1971 but remained at the bottom of the Central Division. The Cavaliers steadily improved during the 1970s with a series of trades that brought Jim Brewer, Campy Russell, and Dick Synder to the team.
During the 1975-76 season the Cavaliers obtained veteran center Nate Thurmond, and he led the team to its first winning season. The club posted a 49-33 win-loss record and qualified for its first trip to the playoffs. The teamís success came from solid defense, Thurmondís rebounding, and balanced scoring as seven Cavaliers logged scoring averages in double figures. Cleveland fell to the Boston Celtics in the 1976 conference finals. In each of the next two seasons the Cavaliers were quickly defeated in the playoffs. Plagued by injuries to veteran stars, the club slumped for six seasons, starting in 1978. Fitch quit after the 1978-79 season and was replaced by seven coaches in quick succession. In 1983 brothers Gordon and George Gund bought the franchise. Under their ownership, the Cavs slowly climbed from the bottom of the division, and guided by coach George Karl, the club reached the 1985 playoffs.
In the 1986 NBA draft the club selected center Brad Daugherty and guard Ron Harper and obtained the draft rights to guard Mark Price. The club also hired Lenny Wilkens as coach, beginning with the 1986-87 season. During the 1987-88 season the Cavs obtained forward Larry Nance in a trade, and the team finished with a 42-40 record, its first winning season in ten years. In the playoffs the Chicago Bulls defeated the Cavs in the first round. Cleveland won 57 games in 1988-89 but again lost to the Bulls in the first round of the playoffs. Price, Daugherty, and Nance posted outstanding seasons in 1991-92 as the Cavaliers won 57 games again and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals before falling to the Bulls. The Cavs had one of their best seasons in 1992-93, leading the league in field-goal shooting (.497), free-throw shooting (.802), and three-point shooting (.381). The team won 54 games but lost to the Bulls in postseason play for the fourth time in six years.
In the mid-1990s injuries, trades, and retirements led to a shake-up of the starting lineup. The club hired Mike Fratello as head coach beginning with the 1993-94 season, and he instituted a strategy of tough defense and deliberate offense that produced several winning seasons. After Cleveland struggled during the lockout-shortened 1999 season, former Minnesota Timberwolves assistant coach Randy Wittman replaced Fratello.