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LeBron James.

Here's how the Cavaliers have dug themselves out of their early season slump

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Though the Boston Celtics have been outstanding so far this season, the hottest team in the Eastern Conference right now is actually the Cleveland Cavaliers.

After starting out the season a sluggish 5-7, the Cavs have rattled off an impressive nine-straight victories to improve to 14-7 and vault into third place in the East.

The early season panic is over, as it appears the Cavs have figured out how to work their new players into the rotation, even while dealing with injuries to point guards Derrick Rose and Isaiah Thomas.

How long they can stay healthy and how long they can stay this hot will go a long way in determining whether or not they can catch the Celtics for the No. 1 seed in the East, but for now, they're just happy to be playing better.

For a team that looked lost earlier in the season, the turnaround has been nothing short of amazing. So, what has changed?

Here are three of the biggest reasons that the Cavs have managed to dig themselves out of their early season slump:

Miami Heat v Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron James has taken over

Look, it's no secret that the Cavaliers are LeBron's team and will only go as far as he can take them. That's even more evident now that Kyrie Irving is in Boston.

However, after the 5-7 start, LeBron kicked his game into another gear. Over Cleveland's last 10 games (even though he was ejected for the first time in his career on Tuesday night against the Miami Heat), James is averaging 27.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and 7.5 assists per night.

With leadership like that, it is no surprise the Cavaliers are playing well and destroying some of the teams on their schedule.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Detroit Pistons

Kevin Love has stepped up

Without Kyrie Irving, Love has to be the Cavs' No. 2 guy. It took him a while to figure out what that role entailed, but now he's looking more like the superstar he was with the Minnesota Timberwolves several years ago.

Love is currently averaging 18.7 points and 10 rebounds a night, which is huge for a team that needs every single one of those rebounds as center Tristan Thompson continues to recover from an injury.

After James was ejected against Miami on Tuesday night, Love stepped up, scoring an impressive 38 points and grabbing nine rebounds to lead the Cavaliers to victory.

He'll need to continue doing that more often to give LeBron some rest as the season wears on, but Tuesday night's performance was a good sign for Love and the Cavs.

2017 NBA Finals - Game Four

They're taking advantage of free throws

The Cavaliers are making 81.1 percent of their free throws this year, good for the third-best percentage in the NBA.

And, they're getting to the line pretty often, too, making 19.2 of their 23.7 free-throw attempts per game this season.

The charity stripe is the easiest place to pick up points on the court, and the Cavaliers have started using that more to their advantage as their winning streak has continued.

With a guy like LeBron getting into the paint almost at will, the Cavaliers should continue to be among the league leaders in free throws per game.

Topics:
NBA
LeBron James
Cleveland Cavaliers
Central Division
Eastern Conference
NBA Playoffs
Kevin Love

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