The Cleveland Cavaliers pushed the Golden State Warriors to six games in the NBA Finals even without several of their best players. Now one of them, point guard Kyrie Irving, says the team would've won its first championship in franchise history if it wasn't for those injuries.
"Obviously, we had a great thing in Cleveland," Irving said on The Big Podcast With Shaq recently (via SLAM). "We dealt with everything together. I felt like we would have definitely won an NBA championship if everyone was healthy. But almost doesn’t count."
Irving injured his knee in Game 1 of the finals against Golden State and missed the remainder of the series. He was joined by teammates Kevin Love and Anderson Varejao on the sideline, where they watched LeBron James put on a heroic effort to keep shorthanded Cleveland in the series.
Now the Cavaliers are preparing to bring the whole band back next season, and they're confident that health is the biggest thing separating them from a title. Coach David Blatt recently said "we're gonna win the championship next season" during a speech in Israel, and now Irving has said the team should've won it last month.
Cleveland is one of the favorites to win the title next season, and staying healthy will indeed be one of the biggest hurdles.