NBA

LeBron James and Kyrie Irving Covered up Kevin Love’s Awful Performance in Game 5 of the 2016 Finals

Kevin Love is a big reason why the Cleveland Cavaliers won the 2016 NBA Finals over the Golden State Warriors. However, he was not perfect in that series. While LeBron James and Kyrie Irving were making history in Game 5 of the 2016 Finals, Love was almost a complete non-factor. James’ and Irving’s performances actually covered up Love’s awful one in that game.

LeBron James and the Cavaliers won in 2016 after being down 3-1

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In the 2015 NBA Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers lost to the Golden State Warriors in six games. Love did not play at all in that series, though, and Irving got injured in Game 1. 

In 2016, the Cavaliers faced the Warriors again, who had just won a historic 73 games during that regular season. Golden State dominated in the first two games in 2016, winning 104-89 in Game 1, and 110-77 in Game 2.

The Cavaliers won 120-90 in Game 3, but the Warriors took a 3-1 lead when they won 108-97 in Game 4. Being down 3-1 did not bother the Cavaliers, though. 

James and Irving went off in Game 5 to help the Cavaliers win 112-97, and then James scored 41 points again in Game 6 to help the Cavs win 115-101. This ultimately led to the Cavaliers winning 93-89 in Game 7 to win the championship. 

In that final game, James had a massive block, Irving had a game-winning three-point shot, and Love played game-winning defense on Stephen Curry within the last minute of the game. Love’s defense ultimately made up for his horrible performance in Game 5 of that series, though, and for him not being much of a factor at all offensively in those seven games.

LeBron James and Kyrie Irving made history in Game 5

LeBron James and Kyrie Irving made history in Game 5 of the 2016 Finals. Their performances, however, covered up Kevin Love's awful one.
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving pretends to punch LeBron James in the fourth quarter of Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals. | Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News MediaNews Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images

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In Game 5 of the 2016 Finals, James and Irving made history by becoming the first pair of teammates to score at least 40 points each in the NBA Finals, according to ESPN.

In that game, James did a little bit of everything. He scored 41 points to go with 16 rebounds, seven assists, three steals, and three blocks. He also shot 53.3% from the field and was 4-for-8 from 3-point range. 

Irving, on the other hand, just could not miss. He also scored 41 points to go with six assists. He shot 17-of-24 from the field and was 5-of-7 from 3-point range. 

The two were remarkable as the Cavaliers won 112-97 at Golden State. However, their performances covered up what Love did, or didn’t do, that night.

Kevin Love was a complete non-factor in that game

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In Game 1 of that series, Love scored 17 points and had 13 rebounds in the Cavaliers’ loss to the Warriors. That was ultimately his best game offensively in those seven games. 

Love only had five points and three rebounds in Game 2. He was then inactive in Game 3 as he had a concussion, and then scored 11 points and had five rebounds in Game 4. 

However, in Game 5, while Irving and James were making history, Love was doing the complete opposite. He played over 32 minutes in that game, but only scored two points, and only pulled down three rebounds. Love ultimately went 1-for-5 from the field too and 0-for-3 from 3-point range.

Love was not much better in Game 6, as he only scored seven points and had three rebounds. However, in Game 7, he redeemed himself with the defense he played on Steph Curry to win the game, and he scored nine points while also pulling down 14 rebounds. 

Kevin Love was a big reason why the Cleveland Cavaliers had a lot of success from the 2014-15 season through the 2017-18 season. However, he was irrelevant for most of the 2016 NBA Finals while LeBron James and Kyrie Irving were making history.

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference