Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love was a part of the franchise’s 2016 NBA title team, yet he’s now indicating that another of the Cavs’ four Eastern Conference championship teams was more talented.
Love appeared on the “Ledlow & Parker” podcast and indicated that the 2017 Cavaliers were actually more talented. That squad ended up falling to the Golden State Warriors in five games, with Love citing the team’s dampened competitive fire as a cause.
“In 2017, I actually think that was our most talented team,” Love said. “And that was one where like, we’re three years in, some of the jokes aren’t as funny anymore, stuff is falling on deaf ears or it’s raining hollow. Everybody’s kinda like, ‘Oh, we’ll figure it out during the playoffs.’ So we’re not trending or hitting on all cylinders on the time that we should.
“Then of course we come out and we’re like, ‘Oh, this is easy, we’re just gonna make it to the Finals and we’re gonna give it our best shot.’ Had we really locked in that I feel like could have been—cause it’s only this much between winning and losing—I felt like that was our most talented team and I think we only won one game in the Finals.”
That 2017 Cavaliers team had added a number of key veterans during the season, such as Kyle Korver and Deron Williams, but saw their regular season victory total drop by six from the year before.
That record resulted in the Cavs having the second seed in the Eastern Conference. While they managed to fight their way back to the finals, they ran out of gas and lost three of the four games by at least 19 points.
During the 2017 finals, the Cavaliers did lose a heartbreaker in Game 3, when the Warriors’ Kevin Durant connected on a shot in the final minute for the game-winner.
Had the Cavs managed to hold on for that victory, the series might possibly have turned out differently.
Just weeks after that 2017 finals loss, former Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving stunned the team by asking to be traded. That wish was granted, though the Cavaliers did return to the finals in 2018, only to be swept by the Warriors.
However, during the subsequent offseason, LeBron James left in free agency, a devastating loss that commenced a complete overhaul of the team.
Love remains a part of the rebuilding Cavs roster, but he’s often been the subject of trade rumors. Whether or not he remains with the team down the road, he may very well continue to lament the missed opportunity by the 2017 Cavaliers team.