The Cavs are on a two-game win streak and to many, those wins have more to do with their opponents (the Atlanta Hawks and Houston Rockets) than the Cavaliers. You would be naïve to believe that isn’t true, but that isn’t the primary reason. Right now, the Cavaliers are without their first and second string power forwards in Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr. respectively. Because of this, coach Bickerstaff has played the likes of Cedi Osman, Dylan Windler and Taurean Prince (when healthy) at the four spot and it has not been pretty. Limited bodies mean guys who normally come off of the bench or have limited roles are asked to fill shoes that they may not be able to.
This is where playing Dean Wade at the four makes the most sense. Inserting him into the starting lineup has allowed Osman and Windler to play more freely and within themselves. The bench unit is more cohesive, thus they’re able to contribute the way they did at the beginning of the season. During the first 10 or so games, Collin Sexton was on a tear, but he also had help from the likes of Nance Jr., Drummond and the bench. Even though Drummond is no longer playing, Jarrett Allen has filled his role while being much more effective and reliable. Even with Allen playing well, the team still missed Nance Jr. who’s out with a fractured finger. The rotation was shuffled and players who are best suited to come off the bench were now asked to attempt to contribute in ways a starter is supposed to.
Now that Wade is in the starting lineup, Osman and Windler can play their games, which will give Sexton and Allen the help that they need. This will allow the two to be much more effective on both ends of the floor. Most importantly, Darius Garland will have reliable weapons to get the ball to. That’s if he can limit his turnovers. In the past two games, he’s displayed mental lapses on several occasions, sometimes on consecutive plays. However, his poor decision-making isn’t necessarily a bad thing because he’s trying to do the right thing, but his timing is off. Once he figures that out, he can realistically reach the 10 assist mark more often than not and that will open up his offensive game. His game is smooth, but he has much to learn. With Wade starting, even if he contributes nothing, his mere presence allows some of the balance to be restored with this young team. They’ll begin to look more like the team that started the season.
That isn’t to say that this will result in wins, but the team won’t look like an absolute disaster night in and night out. Every guy in the rotation has a role to play and moving parts creates a domino effect. Since Wade hadn’t been playing, he was essentially an extra piece that would allow things to be (mostly) shifted back to normal. Expect this team to be much more competitive on both ends of the floor, to take more threes and to play better individual defense. If my assessment is correct, the Cavs will have a chance to qualify for the play-in tournament.