Now that LeBron James has a full arsenal at his disposal, now that Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving are healthy, now that they ran roughshod over the Eastern Conference, the Cleveland Cavaliers, one would think, have a great shot of beating the Golden State Warriors and bringing a championship to Cleveland for the first time in more than a half century.
RealGM.com NBA writer Jarrod Rudolph, like it or not, believes the Cavs will be more or less helpless in the NBA Finals.
“There’s nothing they can do,” Rudolph said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “Look, it’s not about LeBron. LeBron will be LeBron, and we know he’s great. He’s just not the end-all, be-all to winning championships. I don’t want to say it’s a knock on his career, but when you talk about witnessing what’s been expected, he’s had a great run, he’s made a lot of money, he’s won two championships. But when you look at Kobe, Duncan, Mike, Magic, these guys, Bird has three. But when you look at these guys and how they controlled the championship, you had to go through them when they were winning. LeBron is not in this space.”
To be fair, James is making his seventh trip to the NBA Finals, including his sixth in a row. That’s pretty impressive.`
“This series isn’t about LeBron,” Rudolph said. “He’ll put up his numbers. You look at what he needs to be able to compete with the Warriors. Kevin Love and Kyrie, (the Warriors) can neutralize Kevin Love. And Kyrie, as explosive and fun to watch as he is, he can’t do anything with Steph Curry, if we’re being honest. I know everyone wants to look at it and say, ‘Hey, look, they had an opportunity last year. These guys were hurt.’ I get it. It’s not going to change this year. Having guys back and (having that) dynamic, it makes them more potent, but it still changes. You have to find a way to work those guys in. You have to find a way to make those guys comfortable. They’ve never played at this level. Kevin Love has never been at this level. Kyrie has one game at this level, and the Finals is different than every other round. So essentially, you’re still looking at these guys as Finals rookies. You got to learn how the game is called, the crowd, the pressure, every possession matters – it’s just different.”
In the end, Rudolph feels Golden State is simply a better team.
“I don’t think that you’re going to get four great games from Kevin Love,” he said. “I think you’re going to need at least three-and-a-half great games – not good games, great games – from Kevin Love. And the same thing could be said about Kyrie Irving. So at the end of the day, it comes down to the same thing: LeBron playing great, these guys playing in moments, J.R. Smith gets hot one game (but is) missing everything (the next), and Golden State just keeps trucking along. They’re sharp. . . . No disrespect to anyone in the Eastern Conference. There’s no team that can prepare Cleveland to deal with what they’re going to have to deal with come Thursday night. It’s just not in the cards for them.”