Warriors coach Steve Kerr: 2017 Cavaliers better than NBA-champion 2016 Cavaliers

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The Cavaliers had their greatest season in 2016. They overcame a 3-1 deficit to the Warriors in the NBA Finals to win the championship, Cleveland’s first title in decades.

But the best Cavs team?

Golden State coach Steve Kerr, via Anthony Slater of The Athletic:

“The team that I think may have been their best team was the team we beat in five, in 2017,” Steve Kerr said last week. “I thought that team was better than the one in 2016 that beat us. Difference was, we had Kevin.

“But Kyrie had fully blossomed into Kyrie by ’16, LeBron was at the height of his powers, Love was healthy and rolling, JR (Smith) did his job defensively. They shot so many 3s. Didn’t they make 25 3s in Game 4? That series was some of the highest level of basketball ever played in the sport. It was higher level than ’16.

It’s an interesting argument and a close call. But I tend to agree with Kerr.

The 2017 Cavs dominated the East en route to the Finals, and both their starting lineup and bench were elite.

But the 2017 Warriors dominated the West en route to the Finals, and and both their starting lineup and bench were also elite.

The 2017 Warriors – with Kevin Durant signed and Draymond Green not suspended – were just too good for Cleveland. That doesn’t determine whether the 2016 or 2017 Cavs were better. The difference between the years had more to do with Golden State.

As Kerr recalled, the Cavaliers’ offense hit an unreal level in Game 4 of the 2017 Finals. But that was also only one game. That unit was a bit too streaky.

And LeBron James, perhaps because he was hungrier to win his first title with Cleveland, was better in 2016. That might matter more than whether his supporting cast took the next step in 2017.

It’s an interesting debate – particularly for the Warriors, who won three of the four Finals matchups between the franchises and can look back on the battles more fondly.