Can the Cavaliers make a playoff run? Where do their youngsters rank? Is Baker Mayfield a victim? Right Down Euclid Mailbag

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In a new series for Right Down Euclid, readers can submit their questions for anything related to Cleveland sports and we'll answer them to the best of our ability. So, with that said, today Right Down Euclid will answer your questions, and hopefully more, on this edition of the weekly mailbag.

Hey Evan! Can the Cavs make a run at the playoff this year? Or is it hopeless? – Gavin K

Hey, Gavin! Thanks for the question. I wouldn't necessarily say it's hopeless for the Cavaliers to make the playoffs at this point. It's just going to be a lot harder than many had hoped. Earlier this week, I wrote about how many should feel optimistic about Cleveland's chances in Friday's play-in game based on how they settled in against the Nets on Tuesday. After being given a few days to reflect on it, I still feel that way. Sure, the Atlanta Hawks are a tough opponent – the Cavaliers are 1-3 against them this season. But, with league sources saying that Jarrett Allen will try to play, the odds feel more likely in their favor.

If Cleveland can play their brand of basketball, all while a likely amped-up crowd boosts them energy-wise, those odds feel even more favorable. Granted, it's going to be hard to contain Trae Young whenever he's on the floor. But, if head coach J.B. Bickerstaff matches his minutes with the likes of Isaac Okoro or Lamar Stevens, then it should be a little easier to match Atlanta shot for shot.

Allen likely being back is also a huge variable for Cleveland as well. Even if Allen is only at 80% of his capabilities since sources say that his finger is still bothering him, that's still an 80% improvement in rim protection for the Cavaliers. That'll help alleviate some of Young's scoring punch in the paint as well as help negate the overall rim pressure Clint Capela provides as well.

If Cleveland pulls it off, it means they'll be in South Beach to play the Miami Heat on Easter Sunday. With Miami big man Bam Adebayo sidelined with COVID-19, that'll make life easier offensively for Allen and rookie phenom Evan Mobley. It also should make life easier on the defensive end as well. If Adebayo remains out, the Cavaliers might have a chance to pull off the upset and advance. The odds are slim, but not improbable.

See @QuebradaCavs's post on Twitter.

First off, congratulations on being one of two Twitter questions this week but the only one to tweet it directly to me! Second off, sources have said he's going to try and give it a go but, he'll ultimately be a game-time decision.

How would you rank the duo of Evan Mobley and Darius Garland in the Eastern Conference? How about the trio of Mobley, Garland and Jarrett Allen? – Alex G.

Ok, so, this question is kind of cheating. Alex was listening to Wednesday's episode of Locked On Cavs where my co-host and I got into a debate about where Cleveland point guard Darius Garland ranked in the NBA:

It's an interesting thought exercise and we both agreed that Garland was just outside the top ten but trending upwards. That's when my friend and colleague Alex Golden reached out to ask the above question.

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Just like the topic on the show, this too is an interesting thought exercise and one worth exploring. When breaking down Mobley and Garland together, you have to put these tandems ahead of them in no particular order:

  1. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant
  2. James Harden and Joel Embiid
  3. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton
  4. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown
  5. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo

Those are, without a shred of doubt, the five top tandems in the Eastern Conference. In regards to Mobley and Garland, they'd likely be in the next quintet with the likes of Chicago's Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan, Toronto's Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes and Atlanta's Trae Young and John Collins.

But, where things take a leap for Cleveland is when you consider the top trios in the Eastern Conference. Again, this is in no particular order, but, this is how things rank out in my eyes:

  1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday
  2. Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons
  3. Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro
  4. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart
  5. Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen

All of these trios are a mix of All-NBA level talent or front runners for specific awards and that's where they rank ahead of the Cavaliers for now. But, given how talented the trio of Garland, Mobley and Allen is, they could ascend these ranks in no time at all. Due to that potential, it puts them firmly ahead of teams like Philadelphia, Toronto, Chicago and Atlanta, who are all supremely talented.

The sky's the limit for these young Cavaliers. They're showing they belong in these play-in games and will be an Eastern Conference force in no time at all.

Hi Evan. I'm sure you heard what Baker said in that podcast. Do you agree that the Browns lied to him and are to blame?! I do! – Ryan T.

Hey, Ryan! Thanks for reaching out. To be frank: no I don't think Baker Mayfield is a victim. Do I think the Browns bear some culpability for allowing this situation with Mayfield to fester? Absolutely.

But, Cleveland didn't lie to Mayfield.

It's been widely reported at this point that the Browns made it clear to Mayfield and his camp that he was likely going to be their signal-caller next year with one major stipulation. If a quarterback like Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers or even Deshaun Watson were to become available, then Cleveland would trade for one of them and find Mayfield a new team.

At first, it seemed like nothing would happen as Wilson became a Bronco, Rodgers stayed with the Packers and Watson left the Browns roseless in the grimiest and most morally corrupt game of The Bachelor possible. That meant that Cleveland would move forward with Mayfield. But, a few days later Watson had a sudden change of heart when his wallet suddenly became heftier.

Clearly, the situation has changed and the reason the Browns haven't traded Mayfield already is that the quarterback market dried up around the time they acquired Watson. As we've said on here in the past, Mayfield is probably best off backing up an established veteran while waiting in the wings to succeed him.

But, this is just like his time at Texas Tech or in Columbus when he planted the flag at center field. Mayfield is painting himself as a victim so he can put a chip on his shoulder that no one other than him wants. It's juvenile and it's tired. It is also is probably going to get uglier before there's a resolution. But, these publicity stunts won't resolve things any sooner.

Evan – Care to update your prediction for the Guardians' record? They're looking good. – Mike K.

Hey, Mike! I'll admit, I was wrong about Cleveland's inability to produce offensively – they have one of the hottest bats in baseball in rookie Steven Kwan! I'm leery on whether or not it'll last but, you're right the Guardians should get some respect from Right Down Euclid.

New final Cleveland Guardians record prediction: 81-81

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