On Monday night, the Warriors embarrassed the Cavaliers in Cleveland, scoring 70 points in the first half and leading by as many as 43 in the third quarter – the largest deficit of LeBron James’ career. The Cavs lost, 132-98 – their fifth straight loss to the Warriors. Cleveland is now a combined 0-3 this year against Golden State and San Antonio.
After the game, Kevin Love seemingly took a shot at James, saying that the Cavaliers needed a lot of guys to look in the mirror – “and it all starts with our leader over there and dwindles on down.” Asked if the problem offensively was a lack of chemistry or ball movement, Love said simply, “I’m not going to get into that.”
Tiki Barber did not read too much into Love’s postgame comments; Brandon Tierney did.
“Look, they all had an off-night on Monday and these comments by Kevin Love were right after the game,” Barber said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “But they all had an off-night. So you get asked these questions in the moment, I don’t know. You’re searching for an answer. Obviously in the Finals last year – but for a lot of last year – it was, ‘When things go wrong, LeBron’s going to save us. So we all start looking at LeBron. All right, LeBron, save us. Figure this out for us.’ They clearly weren’t listening to their coach, David Blatt. (There was) speculation he was going to get fired. So when it comes down to crunch situations, they’re turning to LeBron, and when he’s off, then where do you go? I feel like there’s a hierarchy problem. Phil Jackson still had sway over Michael Jordan. The coach is already at the bottom of the totem poll (in Cleveland). It’s confusing. That confusion leads to disjointed play – and that’s what we’ve seen for a lot of the season, especially against the good teams.”
Tierney believes Love deserves a lot of blame for the Cavs’ struggles against elite competition.
“The problem is Kevin Love,” Tierney said. “Kevin Love’s soft. Let’s use Miami as the example. Granted, LeBron was a little younger, a little more able to impose his physical will on games. But there were nights where Chris Bosh would score 30 points. Granted, not with great frequency, but there were nights – if LeBron was tired or LeBron purposely deferred – Chris Bosh stepped up. Kevin Love doesn’t. I don’t know. The way he said, ‘And it all starts with our leader over there’ – it didn’t sound very harmonious to me. . . . I’ll tell you this: I would trade Kevin Love. I would just get rid of him. They’re not going to win with this guy. They’re not.”
Love took just five shots in 21 minutes on Monday, finishing with three points, six rebounds, two assists and one block.
“I don’t think he knows what his role is because it’s not one that he’s used to,” Barber said. “He came from Minnesota. Now it’s creating something new. Remember when Chris Bosh said this? He said to Kevin Love (that) it’s not as easy as it seems to play with LeBron. I think what he was alluding to was you’re going to be put in a role that you’ve never done before and you got to adjust to it and thrive in that new role, which is foreign to you. Kelvin Love is just not adjusting to it like Chris Bosh (did).”
But it would be one thing, Tierney said, if Love didn’t understand his role. Tierney thinks he does. Rather, Tierney thinks Love is simply unsatisfied with it
“I just don’t think he’s happy,” Tierney said. “But there’s something wrong with this team – and I think it’s fatally. I would trade Kevin Love. I really would. I really would.”