If LeBron and the Cavs lose, blame injuries, not the roster


Every Monday morning, Section 215’s Akiem Bailum gives an in-depth and unfiltered look at all of the latest sports news in The Monday Morning Realist. You can follow Akiem on Twitter @AkiemBailum.

June 14, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) reacts during the 104-91 loss against the Golden State Warriors in the second half in game five of the NBA Finals. at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

This was not the Cleveland Cavaliers roster envisioned to be in the NBA Finals.

This was not the Cleveland Cavaliers roster envisioned to be competing in the NBA Finals against a team in Golden State that is this good and a shooter in Stephen Curry that is THAT good.

This was not the kind of roster LeBron James envisioned he would be in the NBA Finals with. He had already been there and done that in 2007 when the Cavs were swept in that year’s NBA Finals by the San Antonio Spurs, 4-0.

Clearly on this roster there are a couple of huge holes. Those huge holes, of course, are coming in the forms of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love—both on the shelf due to injury.

The Irving injury was especially devastating to the chances Cleveland had because they were able to beat the Atlanta Hawks without him.

The Golden State Warriors are not the Atlanta Hawks.

In fact, the Cavs managing to sweep the Hawks was the best thing that they could have done in terms of the length of that series. Cleveland had an incentive to dispatch Atlanta as quick as possible—so Irving will have as much time to heal prior to the NBA Finals.

Then in Game One of the NBA Finals at Golden State, Irving reinjured himself, and it was that bad that it would sideline him for the remainder of the series. Given the fact that the Warriors had one Game One, everyone felt that the series was over at that moment and that James was once again back to where he was in ’07.

Cleveland has managed to win two games this NBA Finals, but overall, it seems to be playing out as if this is indeed a redux of 2007.

That’s nobody’s fault. Injuries happen all the time in sports and is never something one can predict or something anyone wants to predict.

I see stuff all over the internet, Realists, making mention of how bad the roster around LeBron is for these NBA Finals. I think some may be a little too quick to say it is as bad as the 2007 roster, but it certainly looks similar.

At least this Cleveland Cavaliers team is not going to be swept like the 2007 team is.

The bottom line is that the Warriors have been the better team this NBA Finals because they are a complete team right now. Cleveland could easily be that as well if they had everyone at 100%.
That is the problem—they are not at full strength and it is showing in this series. They miss Irving and they miss Love.

No one is missing them more than the guy who wears #23 for the Cavs.

LeBron could put up Jordan-esque numbers for the last two games (if this series goes to seven) and it still may not be enough despite averaging nearly a triple double for the series, including over 36 points. After Game 5, he said that he felt confident about going to Game 6 because he is “the best player in the world.”

That was not an ESPN quote. He actually called himself the best player in the world. Only one problem with that—the Warriors are facing only one LeBron James—not five of him.

James can drop all the CM Punk-type pipebombs he wants, but as this NBA Finals is once again showing, individual superstars do not win NBA championships. Teams win NBA titles.

For all of the comparisons that the media lazily attaches to James to that of another famous #23, one must remember that Jordan may not have won a single Larry O’Brien trophy if he did not have Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Toni Kukoc, etc. on his team.

The same applies to Shaquille O’Neal who led the early 2000’s Los Angeles Lakers to a mini-dynasty before it was broken apart thanks to ego. Would Shaq have won any championships with the purple and gold if not for Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Robert Horry, etc.

Tim Duncan has won five NBA titles throughout his long and illustrious career with the San Antonio Spurs. We should have our doubts as if he would have won any championships if he did not have Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker on those teams.

This is why LeBron James managed to win two titles with the Miami Heat—he had Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. That was supposed to be the plan with this Cleveland Cavaliers team with the signing of Kevin Love and the drafting of Kyrie Irving.

As much as some want to place the blame on Dan Gilbert this time, this is not a case of Gilbert playing El Cheapo as he did prior to #23 becoming #6 and taking his talents to South Beach. It is simply a case of a beat up and banged up Cavs team that was up against a buzzsaw led by the Splash Brothers.

If they had all of their guys healthy, it may be much different and we may be talking about Cleveland in the lead 3-2. As this series has gone on, it appears to be clear that LeBron cannot once again do it all by himself and they are not going to defeat this Golden State team with only one consistent scorer.

This is no one’s fault. The injury bug just happened to be lurking by Lake Erie at the wrong time—and why the Warriors are one win away from a championship parade by the Bay.

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