The 2015 NBA playoffs were pretty disappointing for Cleveland fans. It was the first year that LeBron was back with the Cavs, joining Kyrie Irving as well as Kevin Love. We now had our own “Big Three.” We all know how that season played out. Kevin Love dislocated his shoulder against the Boston Celtics in the first round due to Kelly Olynyk’s dirty play. That didn’t stop the Cavs because they still went to the NBA Finals against the Warriors.
After missing two of the games in the Eastern Conference Finals from a knee injury, Kyrie played in the first game of the finals. His knee couldn’t make it through the whole game and he was out for the rest of the series. Now, it was up to LeBron to lead the team to a championship without the rest of the “Big Three.” Without the other two, he still led the team to a 2-1 series lead, but could not continue on and we lost the series 4-2.
What if Kyrie and Love never got hurt though and played in those finals?
Playing the hypothetical game won’t change anything, but it’s always fun to do, so let’s give a try. If Kyrie and Love play in that finals matchup, I would say that the Cavs win. They had a shot without them, so adding two of the team’s three best players would be pretty easy to figure that they would win. That means the team breaks the Cleveland championship drought after only 51 years. The Warriors would make a few minor changes in the offseason other than the ones they originally did to give them a better chance against the Cavs.
The following year, both teams meet in the finals again. The Warriors didn’t have a record-breaking regular season due to the different roster changes that they had to make. The matchup goes seven games again, but the Warriors never have a 3-1 lead. The Cavs win once again, but the joke of the Warriors blowing a 3-1 lead never exists. In the offseason, the Warriors are unable to pursue Kevin Durant because they don’t have the same salary space they had before. Durant decides to stay with the Thunder, but only signs to a short deal because he couldn’t find any better options.
Now comes 2017. The Cavs go easy in the regular season, but they make it to the NBA Finals again. This time, they face the Thunder in the NBA Finals. They play a tough series and even though the Cavs are expected to win, the Thunder pull one out due to some fatigue by the Cavs. This time around, there is less drama in the Cavs locker room after being two-time champions but wanting another one. This leads to Kyrie not requesting a trade and the “Big Three” remaining intact. Obviously, some minor role players have changed over the years, but the core of the team remains the same.
I know this is all hypothetical, but it is crazy to think about what would’ve been if the Cavs never faced the injury problems they did in 2015.
If only this were true…