The 2007 Cleveland Cavaliers were one one of the least-talented teams to ever make the NBA Finals. Well, the 2015 Cavaliers – without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love – aren’t much better.
In fact, they’re not.
“I would probably say this (year’s supporting cast around LeBron James is worse),” NBA.com writer Lang Whitaker said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “I remember going to those games in 2007, and the best probably big man on that team was Drew Gooden. But I think this team . . . wasn’t built to have these guys. They were built to rely on Kyrie Irving. They were built to rely on Kevin Love. And the fact that we’re seeing these big doses of Tristan Thompson or J.R. Smith or Matthew Dellavedova or James Jones playing 20 minutes – that’s only because they don’t have the guys they’re supposed to have available. So this team it’s not designed to be built like this, but they’re just kind of making due with what they have. That 2007 team wan’t very good. They also ran into a very good Spurs team. But to me, this team being in the Finals and LeBron bringing them there is a more impressive achievement.”
That said, Whitaker would have picked the Warriors to win this series even if Irving and Love were healthy.
“Yeah, probably in seven, though,” Whitaker said. “It’s also interesting because without Kevin Love, they kind of became a different team in the postseason. They hit that run after the postseason where they had all three of those guys and they looked great, and then when Love went down, they started relying on LeBron a little bit more. They didn’t really have Kyrie for most of that Atlanta series, and I kind of felt like they played a beat-up Celtics team in the first round that people didn’t even think should be a playoff team. They played a beat-up Bulls team in the second round. They played a Hawks team where six of the nine best players were hurt in the series, and they squeaked through some of those games. They swept the Hawks, but it made the Cavs look better than they actually were in the postseason to me. It wasn’t that same team that we saw in the regular season. If all three of us those guys were healthy, it’s a different story. It’s a better matchup (and gives) them way more flexibility and gives David Blatt the ability to do all sorts of things that he kind of can’t do right now.
“But it also kind of gets lost in this that Golden State wasn’t just a good team in the regular season,” Whitaker continued. “They were a historically great team – one of the great regular season teams ever. Best offensive team and best defensive team in the NBA. They kind of get overlooked a little bit as this playoffs has worn on. They blew out so many teams, I think Steph Curry didn’t play in 15 fourth quarters this season. It’s easy to kind of overlook how great the Warriors were this regular season. So yeah, if they have all three of those guys, I think it’s probably a better series. But I still think Golden State is a team that was going to win this thing.”