The Cleveland Cavaliers emerged as the heavy underdogs heading into their third consecutive NBA Finals matchup against the Golden State Warriors. However, Cavs forward Kevin Love doesn’t feel they are underdogs, reminding their doubters that they are reigning NBA champions.
“The whole underdog thing is funny to me, because, yeah, at the end of the day we are defending our title,” Love said after the Cavs’ first practice in preparation for the Warriors since clinching a spot in the Finals. “We’re trying to repeat, which is so hard to do. I think we will use it as fuel, we will use it as motivation, but the idea of playing into it? It’s tough for me to say that is the case. I don’t feel like we’re underdogs. We match up well with them, and I think they’d say the same about us.”
When Kevin Durant headed to Golden State, the Warriors became the top favorite to win the 2017 NBA championship title. According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has the Warriors as a minus-260 favorite while the Cavs are plus-220. ESPN’s Basketball Power Index says the Warriors have a 93 percent chance of winning the series.
Kevin Love will make difference in the NBA Finals 2017
With his statement, Kevin Love looks confident that the Cavaliers will end the season as back-to-back NBA champions. After winning their first title, they managed to keep their core intact and added quality players to boost their second unit. Love is currently playing his best season since joining the Cavaliers in 2014.
In 60 games this season, he averaged a double-double with 19 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. He’s also shooting 42.7 percent from the field and 37.3 percent from beyond the arc. Love will be a difference maker for the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals 2017 as the Warriors’ defense is expected to focus on LeBron James.
In their third season playing together, Love becomes more comfortable with his role as James’ sidekick. He’s not a prolific scorer like James and Kyrie Irving but he still finds ways to help the Cavs win games.
Cavs not using undergo label as motivation in the NBA Finals 2017
Like Kevin Love, coach Tyronn Lue is not fond of being labeled as the underdogs. Lue said that entering the NBA Finals for the third straight season is enough for them to be motivated in their upcoming games.
“We’re not going to use that as motivation,” Lue said. “It’s like, we’re in the NBA Finals. That’s enough motivation alone. Not worry about what it says in Vegas or what people are saying about underdogs. We’re not using that as an excuse. We’ve got to come out and play. Our goals were set at the beginning of the season, and that’s to win a championship. So that’s what we’re focused on.”
Photo courtesy: Erik Drost/Flickr
Video courtesy: Youtube/The Highlight Laboratory