INDEPENDENCE (92.3 the Fan) – With the NBA playoffs looming, so is the return of a key piece of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ title hopes: Kevin Love.
After suffering a broken bone in his left hand on Jan. 29, the power forward appeared at shoot around on March 1, going through drills. The team did not alter his eight-week recovery schedule, putting Love on schedule to return March 20.
Love appeared again at practice on March 2, speaking to the media on his path back to the floor.
“I was able to start shooting a little bit with my right hand, dribble a little bit with my right hand,” he said. “We’ll progressively get to my left, but I guess one of the things I can do now is catch the ball, guide it and shoot it within 12-, 15-feet. So that feels good to be able to do something other than run on the treadmill, so it’s nice.”
The 29-year-old said he is able to do most everyday activities, and that he wears his protective splint when he is at games or around large groups of people. While not pressing to return before that eight-week schedule, Love said it would be ‘nice’ if he did.
Without Love on the floor, the Cavaliers have just three players remaining from the 2016 NBA Championship team, and four player who have played just seven games with the team.
The worry would be that with 21 games remaining, and Love to miss the lion’s share of those contests, there is not enough time or chemistry to turn things around by the time it needs to.
Love cited the same coaching staff from that 2016 squad as a reason to be optimistic.
“I think we definitely have a coaching staff that’s remained the same, so we know what they want out of us,” he said. “Just having some new blood and some new faces can be a good thing because they can be very hungry and want to get on that quick learning curve to make it so we have a big run.”
There was a paradigm shift coming from head coach Tyronn Lue between Sunday’s loss against the Spurs, after which he called his offense too predictable. After a Thursday loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, Lue said the team needed to simplify things in order to cater to the four new players.
Everybody on the roster seemed to be in agreeance that the lack of plays prior to the all-star break allowed for a more open offense.
“We were getting to the other side of the floor, we were penetrating on kick-outs, and playing with great pace,” Love added. “I know that’s all easy stuff to say, but we were just going out there and playing basketball. I think if we get back to that, it will only help us, especially with all the plays we’ve put in for these guys.”