With the Cleveland Cavaliers’ backs against the wall following their Game 3 loss at home to the Golden State Warriors, the team is one loss away from getting swept cleanly by their fierce longtime rivals. And as far as one unnamed Cavs veteran is concerned, it would be the other way around, with Cleveland leading Golden State, 3-0, heading into Game 4 on Friday, had the team not sent Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics ahead of the 2017-18 season.
According to Yahoo Sports, the aforementioned comments were made to The Athletic’s Jason Lloyd, for a members-only report that broke down Game 3 of the NBA Finals, where the Warriors leaned on Kevin Durant’s heroics to beat the Cavs, 110-102. While the player was not identified by name, Yahoo Sports referred to him as a Cleveland “team veteran” who said the Cavs shouldn’t have pulled the trigger on a Kyrie Irving trade.
“We’d be up 3-0 if Kyrie was still here. I have no doubt. Do you?”
Commenting on the anonymous player’s statement, Yahoo Sports’ Jack Baer posited that it still wouldn’t have been possible for the Cleveland Cavaliers to go up 3-0 against the Golden State Warriors in this year’s Finals, even if they still had Irving as starting point guard.
To back up his point, Baer brought up how the Warriors also won the first three games of the 2017 NBA Finals against a Cavs team that had Irving. Cleveland would then win Game 4, followed by a Game 5 loss, as the Warriors ended up as last year’s NBA Champions with a 4-1 Finals win.
After spending his first six NBA seasons in Cleveland, Kyrie Irving was traded to the Boston Celtics in 2016, with the Cavs receiving point guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Jae Crowder, rookie center Ante Zizic, and multiple future draft picks. While ESPN was one of many publications who had declared the Celtics the winner of that trade, Yahoo Sports noted that there might have been several consequences, had the trade not pushed forward, such as the Cavs not being able to trade Thomas to the Los Angeles Lakers for Larry Nance, Jr. and Jordan Clarkson, and not having the necessary players to acquire George Hill and Rodney Hood in midseason.
Interestingly, this might not be the first time that a Cavaliers player has been quoted making bitter comments about the Kyrie Irving trade. Last month, a report from Sports Illustrated also cited Jason Lloyd of The Athletic, who wrote that someone from the Cavs called Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge a “f***ing thief” for ending up with Irving. It wasn’t made clear in Lloyd’s newer report, however, if that player was the same Cavs veteran who talked about the team possibly being up 3-0, had Irving stayed with the team.