Hall of Famers
1 Center Court
Cleveland, OH 44115-4001
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The Cavaliers first began play in the NBA in 1970 as an expansion team under the ownership of Nick Mileti. Playing their home games at Cleveland Arena under the direction of head coach Bill Fitch, they compiled a league-worst 15�67 record. The team hoped to build around the number one 1971 draft pick Austin Carr who had set numerous scoring records at Notre Dame, but Carr severely injured his leg shortly into his pro career and did not recover sufficiently to become a great pro player.
The following seasons saw the Cavaliers gradually improve their on-court performance, thanks to season-by-season additions of talented players such as Bingo Smith, Jim Chones, Jim Cleamons and Dick Snyder. Cleveland improved to 23�59 in their sophomore season, followed by a 32�50 record in 1972�73, and a small step backwards to 29�53 in 1973�74. In 1974, the Cavaliers moved into the brand-new Richfield Coliseum, located in a rural area thirty miles south of downtown Cleveland in Summit County (now part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park). That season, the Cavaliers finished with a 40�42 record, falling just short of a playoff berth.
In the 1975�76 season with Carr, Smith, Chones, Snyder, and newly acquired Nate Thurmond; Fitch led the Cavaliers to a 49�33 record and a division title. Fitch received the league's Coach of the Year award as the Cavs made their first-ever playoff appearance.
The Cavs won the series against the Washington Bullets, 4�3. Because of the many heroics and last-second shots, the series became known locally as the "Miracle of Richfield." However, hampered by injuries, particularly to Jim Chones, the Cavs proceeded to lose to the Boston Celtics in Eastern Conference Finals of the NBA playoffs.
Cleveland won 43 games the next two seasons (1976�77 and 1977�78), but both those seasons resulted in early playoff exits. After a 30�52 season in 1978�79, Fitch resigned as head coach. The following season, after going 37�45 under Fitch's successor Stan Albeck, original owner Mileti sold his shares to minority owner Joe Zingale.
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