Kevin Love

Kevin Love will not be cleared to play in Game 3 Wednesday

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USATI

Kevin Love will not be cleared to play in Game 3 Wednesday

Kevin Love was on the court for a portion of the Cavaliers’ morning shootaround Wednesday before a critical Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

But it was Richard Jefferson in a starter’s jersey at the end of practice. Channing Fryegot some run with the first unit, too. It will be those two who will be asked to step up with Love out — he has been told he will not be cleared for Wednesday night’s game, reports Marc Stein of ESPN:

Love did go through part of shootaround with the team but was off the floor when the media was allowed in Wednesday, the team reported. He has been officially listed questionable for Game 3.

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Kevin Love travels with Cavaliers following potential concussion

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USATI

Kevin Love travels with Cavaliers following potential concussion

Cavaliers forward Kevin Love has been cleared to travel after suffering a potential concussion in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

A team spokesman says in an email that Love, who was injured in the first half of Sunday’s game, was with his teammates Monday on the flight from San Francisco to Cleveland.

Love was struck in the back of his head by Golden State forward Harrison Barnes while fighting for a rebound. Love crumpled to the floor in pain but returned to the game.

However, he removed himself in the third quarter after feeling dizzy and was taken to the locker room for tests and observation.

The Cavs said he was placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol. His status for Wednesday’s Game 3 isn’t known.

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Kevin Love’s Finals status uncertain after Game 2 concussion

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Kevin Love’s Finals status uncertain after Game 2 concussion

Down 2-0 to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals after an embarrassing blowout loss, the Cleveland Cavaliers are not in a great place. And with the uncertainty about Kevin Love‘s status, it could be about to get worse.

In the second quarter, with the Cavs trailing 39-30, Love caught an elbow to the head from Harrison Barnes and stayed down several minutes. He remained in the game after that, even hitting a three-pointer, after telling trainers he didn’t have any concussion symptoms.

That changed shortly into the second half, when Love abruptly left the game for the locker room, and the Cavs later announced that he had, in fact, been diagnosed with a concussion.

Cavaliers forward Kevin Love experienced dizziness after returning to play at the start of the second half of tonight’s NBA Finals Game 2. He was taken to the locker room for further examination. As a result of that exam, Love was placed in the NBA Concussion Protocol and did not return to play. Love did not exhibit any signs or symptoms during the first half, or at halftime, that would have caused him to be placed in the concussion protocol prior to the third quarter. His status will be updated as appropriate.

Cavaliers are getting seriously outcoached in the Finals

Cavaliers are getting seriously outcoached in the Finals

For all you people who are on my back all the time about coaches not mattering much in the NBA, have you been watching the NBA Finals?

The Cleveland Cavaliers fired Coach David Blatt during the season and I thought it might be good for them. Blatt seemed out of his element in the NBA in terms of communicating with his players. And they didn't seem to respect him.

But the problem for the Cavs is that they replaced Blatt with Tyronn Lue. No offense here to Lue, who someday might make a pretty solid NBA coach, but this is his first try at a head-coaching job and this is no time for on-the-job training.

And so far in this series he’s seriously overmatched.  My goodness, Cleveland appears clueless.

The Cavs showed no respect for the coaching profession when they brought in back-to-back coaches with no previous experience running an NBA team – particularly one expected to contend for a world championship.

Folks, it’s not that easy.  Coaching at this level is a flat-out near impossibility. Seriously. You’ve got to keep 12 ego-driven, sometimes selfish basketball players happy while asking them – forcing them in some cases – to do a lot of things that they probably don’t want to do.

Like pass to open teammates and, in general, play unselfishly. And like playing defense with inspiration and desperation.

I’ve always judged NBA coaches by how well their teams defend. Guarding people one-on-one at the NBA level is impossible. And just telling these guys to stay between their man and the basket is not enough.

And saying after a game, as Lue did Sunday, “They were tougher than us” is really no excuse and not something to build a game plan on.

Team concepts are required to play championship-level NBA defense. Systems must be in place so players know where the help is, which ways to force the people they’re guarding and how to rotate to open shooters after double-teams. They must defend pick and rolls everywhere on the court and be able to guard the three-point line with fervor while clogging up the middle.

This isn’t easy stuff. But at least you can attempt it.

One of the teams in the NBA Finals is doing a pretty good job of all those things. The other team, Cleveland, is doing almost none of these things while looking bewildered when trying to attack the Golden State defense.

People are going to blame LeBron James but the real problem is, instead of trying to appease James with the coaching hire, they should go get someone with genuine coaching experience to handle this crew.

Cleveland is still sticking to the old-line NBA philosophy of depending too heavily on its stars in isolation instead of moving the ball and moving bodies – using offensive sets to manufacture easier shots for all of the players.

They’ve never figured out how to use Kevin Love in Cleveland, making me wonder if anyone there has ever see him at the high post, where he can use his incomparable passing skills and reliable shooting touch. He’s no Draymond Green on defense, but in a role where he can showcase all he can do, he can out-Draymond on offense.

But I’m seeing no imagination there. A lot of the same old isolations and afterward, a lot of people urging LeBron to come out and try to score 50 in the next game.

That could actually work for a game or two, if the Cavs get lucky, but it’s not a seven-game solution.

My advice to Cleveland is go to school on the video from the first two games – learn from the Warriors and the way they play.

If it’s not already too late.

 

 

 

 

 

NBA Finals Cavaliers vs. Warriors preview: Seven key questions that will decide series

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NBA Finals Cavaliers vs. Warriors preview: Seven key questions that will decide series

Seven games to decide the NBA title. If that many are needed (they probably won’t be). Still to be symmetrical, we’ve got seven questions that will be at the heart of this series. If you want a more NBA Finals previews, check out our Podcast where myself and Dan Feldman break it all down.

1) Can Cleveland have success running and gunning against Golden State? There’s a simplistic line of thinking that goes “the Cavaliers pushed the Finals to six games last year without Kyrie Irving or Kevin Love, this is a better Cavs team, they will win.” No doubt, they are a better Cavaliers team than a year ago, and they do have a chance. The challenge is that with the return of those two stars the Cavaliers have started to play small and fast — Channing Frye is the backup center and coach Tyronn Lue likes to pair him with Kevin Love and put out a running, shooting lineup. It’s worked well through the playoffs.

But do the Cavaliers want to get into an up-and-down, small ball running game with the Warriors? Do they want to try to out Warrior the Warriors? Oklahoma City just tried that — with far better athletes and defenders up and down the roster — and got torched in the final two games going small, and they lost the series. Cleveland coach Lue has pushed this team to play fast and said that is not changing now.

“We just have to play our game. We’re not going to slow the ball down and be at ease. We’re going to push the pace, try to get easy baskets early in transition but make sure we’re taking good shots,” Lue said.

The question isn’t can the Cavaliers score playing this way; the question is can they get enough stops against a Warriors offense that thrives in these faster, more chaotic games? The Warriors destroy teams because of cross-matches forced by pace. I think by Game 3 you may see the Cavaliers looking to slow the game a down some, feed LeBron James in the post more, and we will start to see the Cavs play more like they did last year in the Finals.

2) How does Kevin Love handle pick-and-roll defense? There is nowhere to hide Kevin Love’s defense this series — he’s not good at defending the pick-and-roll and he is going to be dragged into one nearly every time down the court. Golden State’s versatility means whoever Love guards (Andrew Bogut is likely first), that guy can come up and set the pick (and in small ball situations, if he’s on Harrison Barnes or Andre Iguodala because LeBron is on Draymond Green, both those guys can be on either side of the P&R). Love is going to have to show out on a shooter like Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson, then recover to his man, and history shows us that doesn’t go well. Oklahoma City — with their length and athleticism — did this as well as any team we’ve seen having bigs switch onto Curry and Thompson, and they still got torched from three the final two games. Love likely will start out guarding Bogut, but they use the big man to set picks all the time and if Love hangs back the Warriors could start feeling it early.

To be fair, Love did defend the pick-and-roll better against Toronto, showing out well and at points frustrating Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. But the Raptors are not the Warriors — Golden State’s guards are better and have more options around them than the Raptors guards (Draymond Green on the half-roll, creating that 4-on-3). The Warriors know Love and Irving are traditionally a terrible pick-and-roll defending tandem, and they will go right at them. Coach Nick at BBallBreakdown shows you the problems.

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Can Cavaliers adjust after playing Eastern Conference patsies?

Can Cavaliers adjust after playing Eastern Conference patsies?

For weeks now, the Cleveland Cavaliers have gobbled up the creampuffs of the Eastern Conference. And frankly, none of those teams has prepared the Cavs for what they are going to be facing in the NBA Finals.

The Golden State Warriors are going to be a big upgrade on offense and defense from the Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks and Toronto Raptors. And I'm not sure that all that rest the Cleveland players have gotten along the way, after quick series sweeps, will make up for the caliber of competition they have faced.

This is going to be a real chore for them. Can Cleveland win? Of course -- if it finds a way to defend the Warriors without having to remove its best offensive players from the floor. Can the Cavs guard Golden State with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love on the floor? Possibly. But the Warrors' ball and player movement is a going to be a real challenge for the slower Cleveland defenders.

Can the Cavs score with Golden State? Yes, I think so -- particularly if they can consistenty get the ball to LeBron James at the low post, where nobody in basketball has had much luck defending him. The Warriors "lineup of death" small-ball group would have some trouble if the Cavs counter with a lineup featuring LeBron at center, surrounded by their outside shooters. Speaking of which, can Channing Frye continue his torrid outside shooting? That's a big thing.

So is Kevin Love's defense. The Warriors will surely attack him in the pick and roll and in isolation. If he can hande his assignments and stay on the floor, he can have a big impact. And who, by the way, is going to guard Klay Thompson?

Which reminds me, can you believe that two kids who grew up in the swanky suburb of Lake Oswego, sons of former NBA players and former teammates in Little League baseball, are squaring off in the NBA Finals?

I'm going to say the Warriors are going to win this thing in seven games. And it should be a classic.