With a win on Friday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers got back in the win column and ended a nasty five-game losing streak.
Though the streak wasn’t fun, it didn’t impact the level of confidence that Boston Celtics legend Paul Pierce has in the young Cavs team.
In fact, Pierce recently went so far as to say that he believes that the Cavs are one of just five teams in the league that have a real shot at winning the 2023 NBA Finals.
“This has nothing to do with your record,” Pierce said before listing his top five teams. “This has everything to do with — these are the only teams I believe that can win a championship. No order: Boston Celtics, Milwaukee Bucks, Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors, and then for that last one, I’ma say the Cleveland Cavaliers. … Them the only teams I feel like are contenders.”
The interesting thing to note is that of the five aforementioned teams, the Cavs are the only one of the group that has not won or been to the NBA Finals in the last two seasons.
The Bucks defeated the Suns in the 2021 NBA Finals, and the Warriors bested the Celtics in the 2022 NBA Finals.
Clearly, Pierce is incredibly high on the young Cavs team, and he has every reason to feel that way.
The Cavs have one of the most talented starting lineups in the league. The trio of All-Stars of Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell and Jarrett Allen has played incredibly well so far this season.
Moreover, the team seems to be doing everything it can to help potential superstar Evan Mobley figure out how dominant he can be.
It also doesn’t hurt that elder statesmen Kevin Love knows exactly what it takes to reach and win an NBA Finals series. He went to four straight Finals during the second LeBron James era in Cleveland and was instrumental in the team’s 2016 title run.
The Cavs currently sit at the No. 4 seed in the East. After being without several key players in recent games, they are also almost back to full strength.
Cleveland has lots of tough games coming up. Three of its next five games will be against teams that are currently in the playoff bracket in either the Eastern or Western Conference.
That stretch will offer a great test to Pierce’s theory and give the young Cavs team more chances to build their experience and confidence.