CLEVELAND -- With Tuesday's 112-106 win over the Toronto Raptors giving the Cavaliers a 9-1 record over their past 10 games -- including a 2-0 mark against the Eastern Conference-leading Raptors in that stretch -- acting Cavs head coach Larry Drew said Cleveland hasn't done anything yet.
"I still say we're only scratching the surface, I really do," Drew declared. "I still think we can get our young guys, our new guys, they're still kind of feeling their way through this. They, I can look at their face and tell that they're just thinking, they're just trying to think of what to do. They're not letting their natural basketball instincts take over.
"And when they get past that point, I think it takes us to another level. But certainly we recognize the fact that we have to be on the same page defensively, particularly in the playoffs. But I still say I think we're scratching the surface. There's certainly room for improvement in a lot of areas."
One area that can't get much better is the play of LeBron James, whose 27 points, 10 rebounds and six assists against Toronto actually was a touch off his stellar averages of 29.7 points, 10.0 rebounds and 10.0 assists over the past 27 games.
James agreed that there is a degree of unknown with this Cavs team that just can't seem to field a completely healthy lineup -- starting point guard George Hill missed his second straight game with a left ankle injury, and head coach Tyronn Lue missed his ninth straight because of chest pains and other complications -- but James didn't frame it as an automatic positive.
"I mean, it's just what I've been telling you guys for a while now," James said. "We don't know. We don't know what we can become. We don't know. We have no idea. But right now, we're playing good ball and we want to try to continue that. But we don't know what we can become. We have not been whole all year. For multiple reasons, we have never been whole. So, we don't know."
Rodney Hood, one of the new guys that Drew was referring to, had 17 points on 6 for 12 shooting against Toronto, marking the fifth time in the past six games that he has scored 13 points or more.
"I'm 100 times more settled than I was when I first got here," Hood said. "As far as just knowing the playbook, knowing where I'm going to be, knowing spots. Now, it's about just putting it together, and I think that's like the last piece. We're all doing that. I think we're jelling at the right time, especially when we get George back from injury. We're jelling at the right time."
One transition that Drew is not worried about is when Lue comes back to the bench and resumes head-coaching duties. Tuesday was the third straight game that Lue took in at Quicken Loans Arena, observing the action from the coaches' office. He also attended shootaround on Tuesday for the first time since he started his leave of absence.
"Ty's been around the team I would say the last five to six days. He's kind of been gradually getting back into it. I can see that the guys have already embraced him," Drew said. "So, it's just a matter of him being more hands on now once he does get back. I personally, just from what I've seen, it looks like everybody has rolled their sleeves up and just waiting for the day he comes back so they can get to work.
"You can see that the guys, they have totally embraced him, and he has embraced them, as well. But I think that feeling-out period, I think that's over with."
Kevin Love said that the Cavaliers' late-season surge, however undermanned they have been, shows something -- especially with the Cavs doing it in order to hold a half-game lead over the Philadelphia 76ers for the No. 3 seed in the East, in the face of Philly winning 11 games in a row.
"Just that we're able to get over the hump when we need to, persevere through tough moments and remain consistent, even in the ugly games," Love said. "I know we are getting to the very end here and we want to play our best basketball, but sometimes you have to win a certain way throughout an 82-game stretch."
James was asked if the rough regular season has prepared the Cavs mentally for what lies ahead.
"That's to be seen," he said. "But mentally, I'm sharp and I'm focused on what we need to do in order to close out this regular season but more importantly with Thursday with Washington coming into our building. But I'm mentally sharp and I'm fresh-minded, so we'll give ourselves a good chance."
However, Drew said that the Cavs, with James as their leader, have steeled themselves for a postseason appearance.
"As a team, you can only take so much," Drew said. "You can only take so much. The way our guys have persevered over these last 10 says a lot about the character of this team. And certainly, when you have a guy like LeBron, he has no quit in him. He was even more determined from what I saw these last 10 games.
"What we've gone through, things were stacked against us a little bit. But the fact that we pushed on, the fact that we persevered on, we were able to win nine of our last 10. To me, that just says a lot about the character of our team and the fact that we just have no quit in us."