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.