When Kyrie Irving was traded to the Boston Celtics, Kevin Love was expected to be the Cleveland Cavaliers’ second option on the offensive ends of the floor next to LeBron James. Unfortunately, Love failed to live up to expectations, and his regular season averages dropped from 19 points and 11.1 rebounds to 17.6 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Those numbers got worse in the postseason, making it harder for James to carry the Cavaliers against the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
Heading into Game 6, the Cavaliers led the series, 3-2. The supposed do-or-die game for the Pacers became an easy victory after LeBron James failed to get the much-needed help from his teammates. It only took three quarters for the Cavaliers to surrender as James sat on the bench for good. Kevin Love finished with an embarrassing seven points and seven rebounds on 30 percent shooting from the field and 25 percent from beyond the arc.
When asked about his poor performance on the offensive ends of the floor, Love said that he’s trying to make an impact in a different way. The 29-year-old power forward may not contribute well in terms of scoring, but he’s averaging 9.8 rebounds in the postseason.
“It’s not me, but it’s not about me, either. I’ve done a lot of other good things,” Love said, via ESPN. “I know you guys will talk about the offense, but I just got to find a way to impact the game in different ways.”
Kevin Love has been shooting poorly in the past three games, resulting in the Cavaliers making Kyle Korver as their second option on the offensive end. However, in order for the Cavaliers to beat the Pacers, LeBron James needs to double his production. In Game 7, the Pacers will surely focus their defense on James which will undeniably be the worst-case scenario for the Cavaliers, especially if none of their players step up.
James is aware of Love’s struggle and said that they are doing their best to show him that he’s important for the Cavaliers’ playoff success. James urged Love that he needs to be a “big part” of their success whether in Game 7 or in the next round.
“The shot-making, you’re going to have games where you can’t make shots and you can make shots, but we have to continue to let him know how important he is to our success, and if [we] want to have any success, either in a Game 7 or moving on to the next round, Kev has to be a big part of that.”
To strengthen their chance of beating the Pacers in Game 7, Kevin Love will need to unleash “Minnesota Love,” the player the Cavaliers were expecting when they traded two first-round picks to the Minnesota Timberwolves. If Love manages to regain his rhythm, the Cavaliers may not only beat the Pacers, but they can once again fully dominate the Eastern Conference. Game 7 between the Cavaliers and the Pacers will be held on Sunday at Quicken Loans Arena.