The Cavaliers won two games against the Warriors in the NBA Finals, and did so with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love both sidelined due to injury.
Had they been healthy, could they have won two more? Irving believes the answer is a resounding “yes.”
In an appearance on The Big Podcast With Shaq, Irving answered a question about his involvement in getting Kevin Love to re-sign by saying how great things were in Cleveland last season, and that they should bring everyone back because had they been healthy, the title would have been theirs.
“I’m more of the voice of reason,” Irving said. “I’m always going to be a straight shooter with everyone and give them my honest opinion. Obviously, we have a great thing in Cleveland, and we dealt with everything together.
“I feel like we definitely would have won an NBA championship if we had everyone healthy,” he said. “But almost doesn’t count.”
It’s interesting to consider, because the Cavaliers morphed into a very different team once Love and Irving were out of the lineup. They became tough and defensive-minded, with Tristan Thompson emerging into a dominant force on the boards once he was given a starter’s share of the minutes.
But the Warriors were the best team in the league all season long, by a somewhat comfortable margin. Things would have played out differently had Cleveland had its full complement of players available, certainly. But a banner in Golden State still would have been the likeliest of results.
Just like you, NBA players like to vacation with their friends.
It just draws a little more attention when LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Paul are hanging out together.
LeBron and Wade were together at the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas, and apparently a couple other buddies dropped by. You just have to wonder how many of them did the Leap of Faith waterslide. What we do know is some of them went on a banana boat ride.
Dwyane Wade has played 12 NBA seasons, and while he is still capable of performing at an elite level at times, there’s no question that his ability to remain healthy for the entirety of an 82-game regular season has long since passed.
Wade appeared in just 62 games for the Heat last season, and 53, 69, and 49 in each of the years prior.
He did finish last season as the third leading scorer in the Eastern Conference behind only Kyrie Irving and LeBron James, however, and believes that 21.5 points per game average proves he can play in this league for at least a few additional seasons.
Wade was at odds with the Heat over his contract this summer, before re-upping on a one-year deal that will pay him $20 million.
The problem with Wade isn’t his level of production; it’s the relative inconsistency. His team essentially has to count on him missing 20 games during the regular season in order to preserve him from a health standpoint, and that’s not a small number of games to be forced to play without your leading scorer.
Wade is likely good for a few more seasons, even if it’s eventually in a reduced role. But how he performs in 2016 — and how healthy he can remain — will be huge factors in the type of deal he’s able to secure on what will likely be his final multi-year contract.