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The fact the Cleveland Cavaliers were a different team without Kyrie Irving this season is certainly not a secret.
Whether they were a better team this season without him than they were a year ago remains up for debate, however.
Cleveland lost in the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors in five games with Irving last season.
Golden State swept Cleveland in the Finals this season, though Game 1 was a controversial overtime loss and Game 3 went to the last minute.
Even Steph Curry of the Warriors had difficulty differentiating, aside from the obvious.
“[Irving] is an unbelievable player,” Curry told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. “I don’t know much about how much [the Cavaliers’] schemes have changed.
“They run a lot more sets to try to get guys open shots outside of LeBron (James) creating. It’s just different, but I don’t really know how to explain it.”
The obvious difference, though, was Irving’s innate ability to create for himself.
“Kyrie is such a unique talent. You can just give him the ball and he’ll create a shot for you,” Curry said. “They’re much more bent on executing in the halfcourt and trying to create shots with movement, with screens and things like that.
“And, obviously, you can just give the ball to LeBron and he can create more times than not. That’s my best way of explaining it.”