Cavs dismiss Bickerstaff despite advancing to East semifinals

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Even though the Cleveland Cavaliers made it to the Eastern Conference semi-finals for the first time in six years, they decided to let go of coach J.B. Bickerstaff on Thursday.

Bickerstaff, 45, guided the team through a rebuilding phase, overseeing 99 regular-season victories in the past two years. However, the franchise is now on the lookout for a new coach who can lead Cleveland further into the Eastern Conference playoffs.

After taking over as interim coach from John Beilein in 2020, Bickerstaff accumulated a record of 170-159 (.517) in his five seasons with the Cavaliers.

Finishing as the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference with a 48-34 record, Cleveland defeated the Orlando Magic in a seven-game series in the opening round. However, they were eliminated in the conference semi-finals by Boston, with center Jarrett Allen and All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell missing the final two games.

Cleveland is now seeking a fresh perspective, with president of basketball operations Koby Altman and general manager Mike Gansey beginning the search for a new head coach.

Altman and Gansey will start compiling a list of potential candidates in the upcoming days. One name to keep an eye on is Golden State Warriors assistant coach Kenny Atkinson, who previously led the Brooklyn Nets to the playoffs with current Cavaliers players Allen and Caris LeVert.

The Cavaliers possess a strong roster, including All-Star guards Mitchell and Darius Garland and frontcourt players Allen and Evan Mobley.

Under Bickerstaff’s guidance, the Cavaliers ranked seventh in defensive efficiency. Despite Mitchell, Garland, Mobley, and Allen playing only 28 games together this season, they were able to maintain a strong defensive performance, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

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