BLOGTABLE: What does Love's return mean for Cavaliers?

NBA.com Global on Mar 22, 2018 07:29 AM
BLOGTABLE: What does Love's return mean for Cavaliers?
FILE - CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 17: Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers handles the ball against the LA Clippers on November 17, 2017 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBA.com blogtable

Kevin Love is back after missing seven weeks with a broken hand. What does his return mean for the Cavaliers?

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David Aldridge: They will, ultimately, have a chance to become the best version of themselves this season with Love in the middle. He's made it clear he doesn't like playing center, but we're down to crunch time now, and with the days in between playoff games I suspect Love will remain Cleveland's starting center in the postseason, relegating Tristan Thompson to the bench. The Cavs have no chance of becoming a good defensive team this year, so the only way they can go deep in the playoffs is to outscore people. With his ability to stretch the floor and rebound at both ends, Love gives them their best chance of doing just that. He'll allow Larry Nance, Jr., to come off the bench with Jordan Clarkson for a high-energy second unit that should be able to score out of transition more, which would further help the Cavs' "get to 110" formula for postseason winning.

Steve Aschburner: It means good things for the Cavaliers and even better things for Love, who will be more appreciated now as that team’s second-best player. The Cavs, not getting for a variety of reasons the boost expected from GM Koby Altman’s trade-deadline moves, needed help. Love, no longer the third wheel after LeBron James and either Kyrie Irving or the unknown of Isaiah Thomas that loomed over 2017-18’s first half, brings his considerable offensive skills and his size as a one-man cavalry. There still might be things to blame by season’s end in Cleveland but Love, for a change, won’t be one of them.

Shaun Powell: Love can only have a positive impact on the Cavs by being the No. 2 option. After losing Kyrie Irving and then seeing the Isaiah Thomas experiment fizzle, the Cavs now turn to someone who can, and must, ride shotgun. The trick for Love is meshing with a rotation that was changed drastically while he was out. His return is the reason why everyone should've taken the Cavs' recent struggles with a grain of salt. They're still the team to beat in the East, with all due respect to the Raptors (hint: it has to do with No. 23).

John Schuhmann: On paper, it means a lot. The Cavs' other two centers -- Larry Nance Jr. and Tristan Thompson -- can't shoot, so Love's presence gives them another shooter on the floor, which obviously makes a huge difference offensively and gives Cleveland a higher ceiling. But Love's return in itself also means nothing. Over the last two seasons, success for the Cavs has been more about the urgency with which they play (especially on defense) than who is on the floor. This has been a pretty mediocre team all season (that 18-1 stretch was against a lot of bad teams) and through Tuesday, the Cavs are a minus-26 with James and Love both on the floor. So having the two together again does not automatically solve the team's problems.

Sekou Smith: It means the Cavaliers got their second-best and most important player back in the mix just in time for this team to start their late-season rally. It also means LeBron James eases back into a familiar comfort zone that doesn't require him to serve as the first, second and third option (now he can be just the first and second). Most importantly, though, is that the time before the playoffs being used to get everyone comfortable with their postseason roles. The pressure is off of newcomers (relatively speaking, of course) George Hill, Rodney Hood, Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson to play above and beyond their normal ways to try to make up for the absence of an All-Star/walking double-double in Love. Having Love healthy and available for the playoffs means everything for a Cavaliers team dealing with one issue after another, the latest being coach Ty Lue's indefinite absence for heath reasons.

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