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Shaquille O’Neal: Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love ‘Getting Punked’ in NBA Finals
- Updated: June 8, 2016
This year, the the duo has been underwhelming to say the least.
In the first two games, Love has averaged 11.0 points and Irving 18.0 points on 33 percent shooting. The duo has shot a combined 21-of-60 from the field, a disastrous mark that has placed the Cavs in a 0-2 hole against the Golden State Warriors.
To put that into comparison, Golden State’s bench guards Leandro Barbosa and Shaun Livingston have shot a combined 21-of-26 from the field in Games 1 and 2.
Shaquille O’Neal, a former Cavalier, called out the two Cavs players in a recent interview with the Associated Press:
“Because remember last year, the story line was, ‘OK, Golden State, you won a championship, but that’s because Kyrie and Kevin Love weren’t playing.’ Now they’re playing, now you’ve got to play like you know how to play,” O’Neal said Monday night.
One of Love’s biggest problems has been matching up with opposing forward Draymond Green, who had a game-high 28 points during the Warriors’ 110-77 slaughter in Game 2. O’Neal didn’t shy away from commenting on the big man matchup:
“Kevin Love’s getting punked by Draymond, he really is,” O’Neal said during the interview. “I hate to be the one to say it, but he has to step up. You can’t let a guy do the muscle thing in your face and you don’t respond.”
Hopefully this will rile Love up and force the former Minnesota Timberwolves star to step up in Game 3. O’Neal’s words should come as encouragement to the forward. The four-time champion was on the last team that overcame a 0-2 deficit in the NBA Finals when the Miami Heat flipped the script on the Dallas Mavericks and won four straight games to capture their first ever title. The Cavaliers need to do the same if they want to bring home a championship to Cleveland and Love’s play will be a big factor in that.