The Cleveland Cavaliers face the monumental task of trying to even up the NBA Finals in Games 3 and 4 after going down 2-0 to the Golden State Warriors.
To win the Finals, the Cavaliers will have to win four games in five tries, something that seems highly unlikely, given the way the Warriors have dominated the Cavs over the last seven games, dating back to last year’s Finals.
But for Cleveland, there may be motivation to just win a game or two because of the potential ramifications for flaming out in the Finals in embarrassing fashion.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe had ESPN NBA insider Brian Windhorst on his podcast Tuesday to discuss the Finals, and both Lowe and Windhorst agreed that the stakes are huge for Cleveland in these Finals.
As Windhorst noted, the Cavaliers have a whopping $106 million payroll this season, that includes eight-figure yearly deals for LeBron James, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, and Tristan Thompson. When including taxes for going over the NBA’s salary cap, that figure balloons to $170 million. The Cavs are quite literally “all in,” which is also the team’s slogan this year. Windhorst said the Cavs an “A.D.D. franchise,” explaining that there could be big changes if the Cavs don’t give a good showing in the remaining games of the Finals.
“They’re an A.D.D. franchise. They’re an A.D.D. franchise, from their owner all the way down,” Windhorst said.
“If they get white-washed — which I consider a gentleman’s sweep [losing in five games] or worse — if they get white-washed, I would say literally everything is on the table. Everything’s on the table. … I mean, Love, Kyrie, Ty Lue, I’m putting that all on the table, because I know how these guys operate.”
Lowe and Windhorst both noted that the chances of LeBron leaving Cleveland again were quite low, but not impossible, either.
Since Love’s arrival in Cleveland, there’s been rampant speculation that the Cavs would eventually trade him, due to his seemingly poor fit with James and Irving. With another lacklustre performance in the Finals (with possibly more missed time because of a concussion sustained in Game 2), Lowe and Windhorst openly wondered if Love has played his last game in Cleveland.
However, according to Windhorst, if the Cavs fall short yet again, there could be big changes. LeBron seems set in Cleveland, but he helped organise this team, and if his supporting cast continues to fail him, there could be a major shake-up, from a new coach, to, potentially, a new Big Three.
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