The Cleveland Cavaliers have advanced to the second round and beat the Eastern Conference No. 1 seed Toronto Raptors in Game 1, but Kevin Love is yet to find his rhythm playing as Cavs’ starting center. In their 113-112 victory on Tuesday night, Love only finished with seven points on 23.1 percent shooting from the field and 25 percent shooting from beyond the arc. His current postseason average isn’t what the Cavaliers expect from the player they considered their second scoring option next to LeBron James.
In the last eight playoff games, Kevin Love looked ineffective playing at 5, while Tristan Thompson immediately made a huge impact in the past two games. When Love defended Jonas Valanciunas in Game 1, the Raptors center went 6-for-12 from the field and became the center of Toronto’s offense. Everything changed when Coach Tyronn Lue paired Thompson with Love in the Cavs’ frontcourt.
With Thompson playing at center, Love slides to his normal position at 4. The 29-year-old Cavaliers superstar admitted that he is more comfortable playing at power forward since he has been playing the position his entire career. However, Love expressed his willingness to follow Lue’s game plan, believing it could put the Cavaliers in a huge advantage.
According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, Cavaliers Head Coach Tyronn Lue will stick with Kevin Love as their starting center in Game 2 against the Raptors. By playing Love at 5, Lue believes the Raptors will focus their offense on Valanciunas instead of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. Love gives the Cavaliers a threat in the three-point range, especially when LeBron James, J.R. Smith, or George Hill drives inside the basket. All he needs to do is to knock down open shots.
There are several possible reasons that could explain what's going on with Kevin Love and why he's been struggling in the playoffs. We just don't know which one(s) have affected him the most.
— Spencer Davies (@SpinDavies) May 2, 2018
In terms of defending a 7-foot-tall, 265-pound center like Jonas Valanciunas, Lue admitted that the Cavaliers need to do a better job in protecting Kevin Love, especially when the Raptors big man posts up. Jeff Green, who plays as the Cavaliers starting power forward, expressed his willingness to help Love on the defensive end. Green said that he may not “out-tough” Valanciunas, but he will do everything to compete against him.
Coach Tyronn Lue acknowledged Tristan Thompson’s presence off the bench, believing he’s making a huge difference in his physicality and rebounding. But if their strategy won’t work in Game 2, Lue opens up the possibility that Thompson could return in the starting lineup to pair with Kevin Love.