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The Cleveland Cavaliers Need Some (Kevin) Love in Game 4

Wednesday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers laid a BEATDOWN on the Golden State Warriors. It's like the scene from Rocky when Apollo Creed is just kicking Rocky's ass to start the fight and then Rocky slips in a big hook and drops the champion.

That look on Stephen Curry's face: "What just happened?"

Yeah, maybe Golden State is the better team this year, but you're not just going to walk through us like we're chumps. They got a little too cocky, and the Cavs woke up, the Eastern Giants that they are.

Idiots who like to repeat the flimsy crap they hear on ESPN love to say how the Eastern Conference is so inferior to the Western Conference, and that those first two games of the Finals were evidence of this.

Such overrated crap. The Cavs were, at worst, the 3rd best team in the NBA this season. The Cavs were 22-8 against the West this season. That's a .733 win percentage. I'll concede that the Warriors, Spurs, and Thunder were potent teams, where the East was mostly the Cavs and somewhat the Raptors. But the Clippers were a mess, and who's left? Portland?!

Please.

Yeah, Golden State might kick our ass, but not without a cost, not without some pain. And you could hear it, you could see it on their faces.

Klay Thompson, who I both like and respect, crying about a dirty play because someone made contact with him in the paint. Welcome to the Big Leagues, kid. This is for a championship. You take hits. Don't go crying to the media, and then follow up the accusation with, "But that's basketball." Yeah, it's basketball, so stop whining to reporters about it.

Especially coming from a guy on a team with Draymond Green. Hey, Klay: How does a guy with the ball under the basket happen to get his shin planted into some guy's crotch?

These guys are happy with dishing it out. Just don't dish back. They're the darlings of ESPN, the toast of the NBA. How dare you get a little dirt on them.

Nothing annoys me more than people just repeating things they've heard without putting any real thought behind it.

But there was one thing that Cleveland fans were saying that was also thoughtless and annoying: The Cavaliers don't need Kevin Love. And I knew it was coming.


Cavs fans see the team get beaten in two games with Love playing. Fans see Cavs win when Love didn't play. Fans conclude that if the Cavs want to win, Love cannot play.

I heard it on the radio! I heard it from a local newspaper reporter! "The offense ran better when Richard Jefferson was playing." Professionals with such short-sightedness. Come on, guys! You really think what propelled the Cavaliers offense was Richard Jefferson???

I love Jeff. One of my favorites on the team. I thought he was some guy who was over the hill, done for, clinging to a team in hopes of going out with a ring. No. This dude can still ball, and at a decent level.

But you think he was the reason that Kyrie finally woke up and scored 30 points? In Game 1, Irving was 7-for-22 from the field. Game 2, he was 5-for-14! In those two games, he had more turnovers (6) than assists (5), and was 1-for-7 from beyond the three-point arc.

You think Richard Jefferson's the reason LeBron got 30+ points? Lebron shot 9-21 and 7-17 in the first two games. 16-38 overall. He had 11 turnovers. He had 23 points in Game 1 and 19 points in Game 2.

Then there's JR Smith. He took 3 shots in 36 minutes in Game 1. He made 1. In Game 2, he took 6 shots in 33 minutes. He made 2. That's a total of 3 baskets on 9 shots in almost 70 minutes of basketball. And he missed the only two free-throws he attempted. He actually had almost as many personal fouls (8) as attempts!

Sorry, that's not Richard Jefferson that caused the turnaround. That's guys making their shots. Irving made as many baskets in Game 3 (12) as he had in the first two games combined, but on 11 less shots. James, one of the all-time greats, went over 30 for the first time this series. Smith more than doubled his point total from the first two games combined (8) in Game 3 (20).

Irving, James, and Smith combined for 82 points on Wednesday.

In Game 1, Kevin Love had a double-double, with 17 points and 13 rebounds, more rebounds than anyone else on the team. Though he played less than two quarters in Game 2, he was horrible. I know some of those minutes came after he took a shot the head. (That wasn't a foul. Allegedly.) So I'm not sure how much that factored in.

This team needs Kevin Love. All hands on deck. This guy is an All-Star and we're playing one of the best teams in NBA history. How in the world do you ignore that because you saw the simple math of "lost when he played, won when he didn't"? While those are facts, it's a ridiculous correlation to try and make. Would you accept that when Love played well, the team hung on until the end, but when he played bad/wasn't playing at all that the team got blown out?

Maybe Love is what makes this team go!

Of course that's not true, either. Yet it's the same math.

Yes, Jefferson plays better defense than Love, but Love plays much better offense. Jefferson played only 4 minutes less than Love did in Game 1. Yet Love had 5 more rebounds and 7 more points. But I'll be honest with you: That's more of that same simple math. The situations weren't identical. You really can't compare them.

Here's what you do: Don't bring Love off the bench. You don't want to mess with his confidence. You need this guy. Golden State isn't going to play as badly on Friday as they did on Wednesday. You start him, you play the game as you do any game.

However, this is not just any game. It's Game 4 of the NBA Finals against a team that can take you down in the blink of an eye. You lose this game, you lost the series. No way is Golden State going to be beaten three games in a row, two at home. I'm not willing to put all of that at risk for the sake of Love's psyche. If he's not playing well, you get him out of there.

But let him fail on his own. Don't assume he will. I assume he won't.

We'll see how he responds on Friday. I think you'll see an aggressive Love who will be determined to show what he has. He'll be playing at home. I think on Saturday, we'll all laugh at this idea of taking RJ over K-Love.

That will be a good thing, because this team needs the win and, to get it, this team needs Kevin Love.
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