By Daryl Ruiter | 92.3 The Fan

CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Charles Barkley doesn’t mince words as a studio analyst.

It is what makes him entertaining and compelling to watch on TNT.

Prior to Monday night’s game at Quicken Loans Arena, Barkley dropped a bold prediction about the 3-time defending Eastern Conference champion Cavaliers: they won’t make it 4 straight.

“The Cleveland Cavaliers are not going to make it to The Finals,” Barkley said during TNT’s ‘Inside the NBA’ pregame show.

Why such a bold prediction?

“They got too many distractions,” Barkley added. “I said it last week, I think the uncertainty about LeBron, Isaiah’s playing for a contract, all the rumors about Tristan Thompson getting traded. I don’t think they’re going to be able to turn it on. I’m not sure who can beat them, but I’m telling you I don’t think they can turn it on.”

Cleveland entered Monday night’s game having lost 8 of 11 after winning 18 of 19. They are coming off of a road trip that saw them lose 4 of 5.

Barkley is intrigued by the Milwaukee Bucks and believes when Jabari Parker returns.

“That’s a really good matchup,” Barkley said. “They don’t have one player in the half court that puts fear in your heart, but when they get Jabari Parker back – because you’re going to have to be able to score against the Cavaliers – you’re going to have a guy that can play against LeBron. Giannis [Antetokounmpo] – he can’t stop LeBron but I think he can make him work hard over a 7-game series.”

While Shaquille O’Neal didn’t outright agree with Barkley, he did point out the Cavs’ defensive deficiencies and the fact that “they don’t play hard all the time” but “it’s still early and there is time to turn it around.”

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