Injuries have been an issue for the Cleveland Cavaliers this season. The Cavs have seen virtually their whole roster hurt. Kevin Love has almost missed every game this season for Cleveland. Love of course is a leader on Cleveland’s roster that brings veteran experience to the team. The Cavaliers vet may finally return from injury soon.
Love has been out nearly the entire season due to a right calf strain. He missed the season opener against the Charlotte Hornets due to the calf strain. Then, Love made his season debut 12/26 when the Cavs squared off with the Detroit Pistons. The forward played 38 minutes in the double overtime win against the Pistons. Unfortunately, Love then reaggravated the calf the very next day versus the Philadelphia 76ers.
Since December 27, Love has not practiced once due to the calf strain. He of course rested a period of time, and then progressed to individual therapy and workouts. Some encouraging news recently surfaced in regard to Love’s return.
Per Bickerstaff, Kevin Love was at #Cavs practice for "most of the day" in a live setting. Andre Drummond didn't practice with the team today.
— Spencer Davies (@SpinDavies) February 17, 2021
Love Still Producing
Yes, Love has been injured frequently over the past couple of seasons. The 6-foot-8 forward has played in only 80 games out of the past 176 games. However, when he has played Love has still been quite productive.
In the irregular 2019-20 NBA season, Love managed to play 56 games out of 65 games. In his 56 games played, he averaged 17.6 points per game, 45% shooting on field goals, shot 37.4% from three, had an effective field goal percentage of 55% and secured 9.8 rebounds per game.
Some of Love’s shooting stats were actually higher then his career averages. For example, in the forward’s career he shoots 44.2% from the field and has an effective field goal percentage of 50.6%. Both of which, Love raised in his 2019-20 season.
Love is still a necessary piece to Cleveland’s success. The Cavaliers’ core is extremely young and has little to no winning experience. Love brings vital experience to the team, and is one of the team’s leaders. Nearly any team in the NBA would be extremely happy with their starting power forward averaging 17.6 points per game with 9.8 rebounds a game. Love’s return is sorely needed right now during the Cavs’ unforgiving eight game losing streak.
Cavaliers’ New Atmosphere
When Love returns, he will return to a new atmosphere and roster in Cleveland. Of course in his one game played this season, Love is not used to playing alongside rookies like Isaac Okoro and Dylan Windler. Cleveland also acquired Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince in Love’s absence. In addition, players like Kevin Porter Jr. and Dante Exum are no longer in Cleveland. Andre Drummond is likely out of Cleveland as well since he is being held out alongside trade discussions.
Cleveland’s roster turnover has resulted in more depth. Love is at the age of 32, he is aging and simply cannot play as many minutes as he used to. With more depth, Love can be alleviated of some minutes. This can lead to better health for Love.
The feeling in Cleveland right now is they are almost there. They are so close to winning again and fighting for a playoff spot, as they showed in their first twenty regular season games. Maybe Love’s experience is the last piece to the formula. If players like Love and Larry Nance Jr. return from injury, this might be enough to see success again.
All stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference, The Athletic and ESPN.
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