With a little over 24 hours to go until the Cleveland Cavaliers take on the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 of the 2016 NBA Finals, rumors are heating up regarding Kevin Love and his status. Without Love in Game 3, the Cavaliers were finally able to figure the Warriors out, and they won by a score of 120-90. While Love is considered, by some, to be one of the top players in the entire NBA, he does have his deficiencies on the defensive end, and the Warriors took full advantage in the first two games. Regardless of Love’s struggles against the Warriors, he is expected to be cleared to play in tomorrow’s Game 4, but it is likely that he will come off the bench.
As Cavaliers beat writer Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal reports, the final decision is not going to come until doctors evaluate Love before the game tomorrow, but the team expects that he will be cleared.
Since Love will not be cleared unless he is deemed to be 100 percent healthy, it could create issues in the locker room if he feels as though he is being benched. While Love’s numbers are down from when he was a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, he has been a solid player for the Cavaliers since he was traded there before the 2014-2015 season. In 77 games this season, he averaged 16.0 points per game, 9.9 rebounds, and 0.5 blocks. While his field goal percentage has been dropping over the years, he is still an important piece for the Cavaliers on the offensive end.
In a game that Cleveland must win to stay alive in the series, Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue may have a difficult decision to make regarding Love. If he truly feels as though Love is a defensive liability against the prolific Warriors offense, he could further cut his minutes. While Love wants to be on the court as much as possible, Lue spoke earlier today regarding lineup changes and how he expects his players to handle them.
“They might not like it at the time, but I’ve always learned in this business if you tell the truth, guys understand and they know what the truth is. They might be mad for a second, but they can always get back to understanding and realize that’s the right thing. And if you tell the truth, guys can respect that.”
Regardless of the Cavaliers’ impressive victory against the Warriors in Game 3, there were many more factors other than Love’s absence that came into play. After being embarrassed by the Warriors in the first two games of the series, the Cavaliers looked like a desperate team in Game 3, and they had to be. They came out with an intensity that the Warriors could not match, and the game was never really in doubt for Cleveland.
In addition to their increased intensity, the Cavaliers also played their first home game of the series. They had a record of 33-8 at home during the regular season, which was the third best in the entire NBA. Only the Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs had better home records, and both of those teams had historic seasons this year.
Love’s role for the rest of the series is likely going to come down to how the Cavaliers play in the first half in tomorrow’s game. If the Warriors make adjustments after Game 3, which they will, the Cavaliers’ lineup that was so successful may be neutralized. This could mean that Lue decides that they need Love’s offensive skill set on the floor more often. If the Cavaliers continue their solid play on the defensive end, Love may find himself on the bench much more for the remaining games of the series.
While Kevin Love has not yet been officially cleared to play in tomorrow’s crucial game against the Golden State Warriors, rumors will continue to come out regarding his status.
[Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]