Love Loss for Cavs
*Photo via USA Today
The Cleveland Cavaliers learned that one of their “Big 3” they brought in this offseason will be out indefinitely and most likely miss the rest of the their playoff run.
Kevin Love, who injured his shoulder in the Cavs’ game four win over the Boston Celtics, tangled arms with Boston forward Kelly Olynyk. Love separated his shoulder, ending his day and possibly his season. Love is quoted as saying that the play was “Bush League,” while Olynyk maintains it was just a basketball play. Olynyk has been suspended for the first game of next season for the play.
The initial thought after game four was that Love could be back after two weeks, but GM David Griffin is not that optimistic. Griffin said Tuesday that it is “highly unlikely” Love will return this season. So for now, the Cavs must plan around Love not being available.
It is ironic that all year we’ve been discussing how Love does not fit into what the Cavs are doing offensively, and how his play has been subpar to his standards, but this loss could be detrimental to Cleveland’s title chances.
Love’s struggles have been well documented this year, from his on the court decrease in statistics, and off the court distant relationship he’s had with LeBron James. However, he was productive this year, just not to a certain standard he established in Minnesota. He was also coming off his best game of the postseason in game three, after two subpar performances in games one and two.
Even with the criticism he receives, the Cavs were more productive with Love on the floor this postseason. With him on the court the Cavs are plus 36, as opposed to just plus one with him on the bench.
The Cavs also shoot higher from the field with Love out there. They shoot 49 percent from the field and 37 percent from three when he is on the court, and when he is off the court the Cavs field goal percentage dips to 40 percent and 22 percent from three. No matter what you think of how Love fits in, those numbers indicate the Cavs will miss Love on the court.
So assuming, like Griffin, that Love will not return to the Cavs this season, what does that do to their title hope? I have believed all year that a team from the West will win the finals, and if the Chicago Bulls were healthy they would beat the Cavs, even with a healthy Kevin Love. So I believe this injury hurts their chances to win a title.
James will have to carry even more of the load on this team to bring them to the finals, but he is fully capable of doing this. I believe the Cavs can make adjustments to still get through the East, especially with the time off they are getting now to prepare for the adjustments that need to be made, and also with the recent struggles the Bulls and Atlanta Hawks have had in their first round series.
However, it should also be noted that J.R. Smith will be suspended for the first two games of the Cavs’ next series, meaning they are without two starters for games one and two of the conference semifinals. If the Cavs were to reach the finals, I believe the Love injury might be too much to overcome playing any of the Western Conference teams that have been dominant all year.