CLEVELAND -- After the Cleveland Cavaliers needed a late rally against the Dallas Mavericks' second unit to secure a 98-87 win over a Dallas team that came into the day 30 games under .500, Cavs acting head coach Larry Drew shrugged off concerns about what the game means to Cleveland in the long run.
"For me, it's going to be an easy one to move on from and just start getting ready for the next," Drew said. "We're not going to panic about how we played tonight. We know we're a much better club than what we showed tonight. ... But no need to panic. We'll look at this game as we do all our games, and we'll get ready for the next game."
Even if Cleveland needed to outscore the Mavs 25-10 in the fourth quarter to take control of the game -- and even if that fourth-quarter surge started against the Mavs' reserve group of Nerlens Noel, Yogi Ferrell, Maxi Kleber, Aaron Harrison and Doug McDermott -- it was still the team's eighth win in their past nine games.
Cleveland has five games remaining in the regular season and holds a half-game lead over the Philadelphia 76ers for the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.
"I think when it comes down to the postseason, we can be pretty good," said LeBron James, who logged his 17th triple-double of the season with 16 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists. "I mean, I think so. But we don't know. Listen, we lost our starting point guard [George Hill] last game, so we're trying to get everybody acclimated. Our head coach is still out, and it's going to take him a little time to get back as well, so I don't know what we're capable of doing.
"We haven't played a playoff game together. We got four guys from our championship team: myself, JR [Smith], Tristan [Thompson] and Kev [Love]. We got some playoff experience, but you don't know. It's a new season, and we'll see what happens."
James shot just 5-for-21 (23.8 percent) en route to his triple-double, the fourth-worst shooting percentage of his career in a game in which he took 20 or more shots. He also had the worst shooting game of his career inside the arc (minimum 15 attempts), going 3-for-18 (16.7 percent) on 2-point attempts.
"I missed four, five, maybe six layups, which I'm not accustomed to doing, but me not shooting the ball well never stopped me making an impact on the game," James said. "So if I'm not shooting well, I got to make sure I get my guys on time, on target with my passes, and I got to rebound, and I got to do other things to help us win -- and I was able to do that."
The Cavs will be able to improve their hold on the No. 3 seed by faring well in a trio of tough games against playoff-bound teams: at home against the Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards, followed by a road game in Philadelphia.
"I think it's a good challenge for us," said Kevin Love, who had 13 points and 13 rebounds, becoming the seventh active players with 400 or more double-doubles. "I would think, minus Philly -- which is playing extremely well right now but is missing [Joel] Embiid -- everybody is pretty much full strength and will go out and play extremely hard. Whether it's here with the next two games or in Philly on a back-to-back, it's going to be a good test for us these next few.
"We're happy that we're winning, but we want to feel like we've put it all together. I think when we really lock in and feel like it's a do-or-die situation, we will accept the challenge and really compete at a high level. Right now I feel like, and even during today's game, obviously, we felt like we could take it to another level and push through it. But like I said, sometimes you have to win ugly, and that's part of being a good team."
If the Cavs finish the season 3-2 or better, they'll reach 50 wins for the fourth straight season -- another measure of being a good team.
"I think we'd all like to get 50 wins," Love said. "If we don't, it's not going to be the 'end-of-the-world' type of deal. It's something, especially with ups and downs of any season. It would be great to get over that hump. Collectively, that's something to be proud of and push us into the next phase."