The Cleveland Cavaliers’ Mindset

When the Cleveland Cavaliers were crowned 2016 NBA Champions, we wrote an article called, “5 Ways Mindset Helped the Cavaliers Win the NBA Championship.” The 2017 season also went great for Cleveland, with a third straight spot to the NBA Finals. Yet, while last year’s article was about winning the championship, this time we are looking at how the Cavalier”s mindset cost them the 2017 NBA Championship.


As you know, the Golden State Warriors are an incredible NBA team. With stars Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, they are very tough to beat. In order to beat them, you basically have to do everything right. You must have a lot of talent, and you also must have the right attitude. 


The Cavaliers have the talent. In their match-up in the Finals against the Warriors they were definitely the underdog, but not to such an extent that a win seemed out of reach. And yet the Cavs seemed to expect to lose.  


Before the series even started, Lebron James said, “they’ve (Golden State) been the best team in our league for the last three years, and then they added an MVP (Kevin Durant).” This was just one of several instances of Cavalier players acknowledging the greatness of the Golden State Warriors. After their losses, while walking to their locker room, the Cavs’ faces didn’t show any surprise.  


Now, it’s possible that they were simply preparing themselves for a very difficult game, with strong odds against them. We all have to be very self-aware when competing, whether in basketball or in business. Yet in this self-awareness you have to be careful not to lose your motivation and give up before the game even starts. In fact, there were many times when the Cavs’ defense didn’t seem to be giving it their all.  They had the skills to win and it looked like they could have won, so maybe this self-awareness became a self-fulfilling prophecy when they stopped believing in themselves?


In the end, the differences in mindset between the 2016 and 2017 season seems to have weighed heavily against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Now with the season is over, they can still be proud of the fact that they at least made it to the Finals. Even more so, if through some self-reflection they make the necessary improvements during the offseason and change their mindset, they very well have the potential not only to make it to the NBA Finals for the fourth straight year, but become the 2018 NBA Champions.


Mindset is often the beginning point and ending point in sports and business. Enter the game or business deal with a poor mindset and you’ve already lost before tip off. This attitude can likewise easily carry forward to future deals, so there is always a need for a healthy dose of self-awareness and plenty of self-confidence. In the right proportions, winning can be possible even in the most impossible circumstances.



Picture of Kevin Love taken by Keith Allison under the Creative Commons 2.0