The Cavaliers haven’t lost a game since falling 117-113 in Houston on Nov. 9, and that’s the game they knew good things were on the verge of happening.
Surging but still-improving Cleveland (17-7) will bring a 12-game winning streak into its game against the Sacramento Kings (7-16) tonight at Quicken Loans Arena.
The franchise record for consecutive wins is 13, set from March 7-31, 2009, and matched from Jan. 16-Feb. 11, 2010.
“I’m not Nostradamus, so I did not see the streak,” Cavs small forward LeBron James told reporters following a 113-91 victory in Chicago on Monday. “But in the Houston game, I seen the way we played in that game. I said, ‘If we can build off that game, we can kind of turn this thing around.’
“That was a great road trip for us. That was the Houston, Dallas, New York, Charlotte trip. After we left that game in Houston, we said, ‘Listen, we need to go 3-0 on the rest of this trip to reshape the season,’ and we did that.”
Teammate and close friend Dwyane Wade, who has been a big part of the Cleveland bench outscoring opposing reserves 42.3-31.3 during the streak, agreed.
“I didn’t think we’d win 12 straight,” the 15th-year pro said. “But there was some point in there where we were struggling, we talked about, ‘We lost, but we can see the change coming.’ We could see it on the court. We could see it translating into a win.
“We had another one in Houston where we seen it. We didn’t get that win, but we felt it. We felt we were on the verge of becoming a better team. From there, here we go. It’s been a great 12 games that we’ve won and we want to continue it. We want to continue to take care of business.”
The Cavs, who were 5-7 following the Rockets game, matched a franchise record (done four other times) with their seventh straight road win Monday. All have come during the 12-game win streak overall, in which Cleveland has outscored its opponents 112.8-102.1, outshot them from the field .483-.446 and held a .386-.328 advantage from the 3-point line.
“We’re just in a good groove,” James said. “When you’re in a good groove, you want to try to continue that. We’ve just been playing good ball. From one through 15, we’re defending, we’re sharing the ball, we’re moving. We’re just in a good place. We want to try to continue that (tonight).”
As James said, a lot of players have contributed, but he’s led the way. The four-time league MVP — and early favorite to win the award this season — has shot at least .500 from the field in 11 straight games and in 22 of 24 overall.
Cleveland also has gotten at least 40 points from its bench in 16 games, including the last five. It’s the third time this season Cavs reserves have scored 40 points in five straight games. The franchise had only one such streak prior to 2017-18, that coming from Nov. 20-29, 2013.
Finally, the Cavs have scored at least 100 points in 17 straight games (114.3 per game since Nov. 1), their longest streak since posting 19 in a row from Dec. 2, 1988, through Jan. 11, 1989.
More help could be on the way, too, though that may require coach Tyronn Lue to make some delicate changes to what has been a very good rotation.
Center Tristan Thompson is getting close to returning from a strained calf, while point guards Isaiah Thomas (hip) and Derrick Rose (ankle) will likely be available by January, if not sooner. Combo guard Iman Shumpert (knee) is expected to miss another five to seven weeks.
“We’ve got four guys (out) that could be rotational players,” James said, ticking off the names of his injured teammates. “We’re where we want to be today. That’s all we can focus on.”