CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Cavaliers are no strangers to success in the NBA Playoffs, but also, they are familiar with having to overcome adversity.
For the Cavaliers this postseason, adversity comes in the form of their first loss, a 111-108 setback against the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals in front of the home fans at Quicken Loans Arena Sunday night.
But the Cavaliers are confident they can overcome any challenges because of the veteran leadership in the locker room.
“We’re not looking for any excuses, not looking for anything to really motivate us, other than for ourselves,” Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving said prior to Game 3. “We motivate each other. Our coaching staff does a great job of laying out the game plan.
“It’s our job to execute at a very high level, so as a professional, you want to go out and play well, and especially in the playoffs. We have so many veterans and we’re led by so many veteran leaders on this team that help us stay focused and help us stay grounded.”
Over the last three years, Cavaliers general manager David Griffin has made dozens of deals to acquire veteran role players, as well as two members of the starting rotation, power forward Kevin Love and shooting guard J.R. Smith.
During the last seven postseason series, the Cavaliers have had to rely on everyone at one point or another to come through with offensive and defensive productivity to win games and championships. And Irving is still amazed by the depth on the roster.
“Griff did a great job of just putting some pieces together, and sometimes, I even marvel at it going home because we basically have almost a 10-guy rotation out there and it becomes very dangerous with all different guys out there, different lineups, and we match up very well with almost any team,” Irving said.
“T-Lue’s got a tough job to do, just trying to manage everyone’s minutes, but when you have so many selfless guys, guys that understand their roles and are just willing to do anything to get one rebound for one minute or get a stop for a minute, that’s a team I love to be a part of and I’m glad I’m here.”
In the eyes of the players, the best part about having depth means that when something does not work, there are plenty of options to go to in order to right the ship.
“With this team, yeah because one through 15 is legit guys at each position,” Smith said. “Our backup point guard is a multiple all-star. One of our backup two-guards has been an all-star. Our depth is so good, so if one guy doesn’t have it going, it’s easily the next man up.
“For us as players, we don’t take it personal if we have an off night and the next guy goes up, so I think that says a lot on its own about our maturity because we are a veteran team. It plays to our advantage.”