Richard Jefferson admits 2016-17 Cavs didn’t try during regular season because they were on ‘some bulls–t’

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Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Former Cleveland Cavaliers veteran Richard Jefferson says that the team didn’t put out total effort during the 2016-17 regular season.

During a recent episode of the “Road Trippin'” podcast, Jefferson spoke (at the 45:13 mark) about the difficulty of winning during the regular season, noting unexplained issues involving the 2016-17 Cavaliers.

“My point is that we barely won 50 games, and we were probably the best team in the league just because we were on some bulls—,” Jefferson said. “So, I’m saying it’s hard to win games. It’s hard to win games. We had the best player in the world on our team and all this s—, but if you can’t move as a cohesive unit, it is one of the worst experiences that you can be a part of in sports.”

The Cavaliers finished that particular season with a 51-31 regular season record and were clearly focused on the upcoming postseason down the stretch. Evidence of that can be seen in the fact that the Cavaliers were just 4-7 in their final 11 regular season contests.

Yet, once that 2017 postseason began, the Cavaliers were able to quickly flip the switch and swept the Indiana Pacers and Toronto Raptors, respectively, during their first two playoff series.

Game 3 of that Pacers series showed a Jekyll and Hyde type of performance that was undoubtedly aggravating to some Cavaliers fans. In that contest, the Cavaliers trailed 74-49 at halftime before waking up to pick up the 119-114 comeback victory.

That stunning collapse by the Pacers blew a golden opportunity for them to cut the Cavaliers’ 2-0 advantage in the series in half. Instead, three days later, the Cavaliers finished off the Pacers.

In the Eastern Conference finals, the Cavaliers defeated the Boston Celtics in five games, but then fell in five games to the Golden State Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals.

Though Jefferson didn’t offer any additional insight on what issues plagued the Cavaliers, their status as defending NBA champions likely played a role.

Members of that particular Cavaliers roster surely were well aware of their abilities and felt that coasting through stretches wouldn’t hurt the team when the postseason got underway.

It’s also possible that former Cavs guard Kyrie Irving might have been connected to whatever issues existed. That’s because Jefferson’s comments were connected to a discussion of the current chaos involving Irving’s current team, the Brooklyn Nets.

In addition, it was after the 2017 NBA Finals that Irving stunned the Cavaliers and fans by asking to be traded. That request was accommodated in August 2017 when Irving was sent to the Celtics before later joining the Nets as a free agent.

Exactly what took place may never be known to people not connected to that Cavaliers team. In the end, it may not matter because that memorable era resulted in the franchise’s only NBA title.

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Brad Sullivan is a lead writer for Cavaliers Nation. He has spent much of life in the Cleveland, Ohio area, and has remained a Cavalier fan from their 1970 beginnings through the return of LeBron James. While that fandom was sorely tested during the Reign of Error known simply by one word, Stepien, that overall historical perspective will be part of his writing for Cavaliers Nation in the months ahead.