After Golden State’s second consecutive NBA Finals blowout of the Cleveland Cavaliers, a 132-113 win, most experts have shortened their predictions in favor of the Warriors winning their second title in three years much sooner. However, ESPN NBA writer Chris Haynes told The Jim Rome Show Monday on CBS Sports Radio that he expects the Cavs to show they have the heart of a champion as the series heads to Cleveland. Haynes says we should not count out the best player in the game just yet.
“I know the way and the fashion that they’ve beaten the Cavaliers over the first two games. I understand it’s not been pretty, but there’s something about going back home and particularly going back home with a LeBron James led team,” Haynes said, who predicted the Warriors to win the series in seven games. “I would just be a little cautious on, and I know a lot of people are changing their predictions now, going to five and some people even saying a sweep. You know role players play better at home. There’s just a dynamic that just changes when you switch the landscape.
“Game 3 is definitely the make or break game for the Cavaliers.”
But if the defending champions were to get swept or even lose in five games, the former Cavs beat writer would then expect major offseason changes in Cleveland.
“I think in years past – say last year’s for say – if the Warriors close out that series and won the Finals 4 games to 1, there’s no doubt in my mind Kevin Love would not have been back. There’s no doubt in my mind and so I think that’s the same case,” Haynes said.
Haynes said when the four-time MVP LeBron James returned to Cleveland in 2014, the organization was in it to win every season he was there.
“LeBron James has made it known, that while he’s in Cleveland, he put the onus on management and ownership to give him a roster that could compete for championships year after year,” Haynes said. “It’s not going to be good enough for LeBron to just make it to the Finals every year, because they will do that. There’s nobody in the East that can contend with them that could mess with them. Nobody. I don’t even care what Boston does unless they get the likes of a Paul George.
“But Bron’s not going to be happy about that, so if the Warriors are to get this series over within four or five, I would expect Cleveland to make some moves. What is that move? I don’t know, because there’s always been talk about Chris Paul and LeBron James teaming up at some point, but I just don’t know if the chemistry fits with them. Obviously they’re smart guys and they probably could make it work and play at some high of a level, but those are two ball-dominant players and will it work with Kyrie Irving as well? There will be some move made.”
Haynes wouldn’t rule out James’ good friend Carmelo Anthony joining him in Cleveland if this series continues to be a blowout either.
“I don’t know if it would work, but I know that they were talking at the trade deadline,” Haynes said about a potential Anthony-to-Cleveland trade. “Those talks definitely could resurface, because it’s at this point, if the Cavaliers feel like hey, all they could do is get to the Eastern Conference Finals, then why not kick the tires on a Carmelo-Kevin Love swap and just see what could happen. Because I guess they feel like with Kevin or with Carmelo, they could advance to the Finals. Now, they don’t know what they can do with Carmelo, I think they have a pretty good idea with Kevin Love.”