This Kevin Love talk has to stop. The guy was probably a top 5 player before his trade to the Cavaliers. Adjustments would have to be made, we seen the same thing happen to Bosh during the big 3 era in Miami. Bosh was a better defender but his game changed dramatically. Does Love have issues? Yes but he can still help this Cavs team win a championship.
In his last season with the Wolves Love averaged 26 ppg, 12.5 rpg and 4.4 apg. He took 1422 shots including 505 three pointers and he took eight free throws a game. We all knew that would change when he joined forces with Kyrie Irving and LeBron James. He struggled a lot last season but started to play well before his injury in the 1st round of the playoffs.
This season Love got off to a better without Irving in the lineup. In November he had his best month as a Cavalier averaging 19.9 ppg, 11.8 rpg on 47% shooting and 41% from 3-point range. He took 14 shots per game and had eight double-doubles. In December the scoring dropped to 12.7 ppg and his shooting dropped to 37% while his 3-point shooting dropped to 27%. Did Love’s production drop because Kyrie Irving returned? Well yes and no. Who deserves the blame for this? The entire Cavaliers team deserves blame but most of the blame goes on LeBron James, David Blatt and Kyrie Irving.
James and Irving are the ball handlers and Blatt is the guy who has to find ways to get Love involved early and often. At times Kyrie is over dribbling and instead of throwing the ball to Love in the post he tries to beat his man off the dribble. Love is a very good three point shooter but he can do so much more.
Love is a guy who can score in the post, he can draw fouls and he can grab offensive rebounds. The Cavaliers need to use that to their advantage. In 2013-14 Love had 27 games with double digit free throw attempts. With the Cavs he had eight such games. Before Love developed that three point shot he played closer to the basket. In his first four seasons he grabbed over 200 offensive rebounds each season. During that last season with the Wolves he averaged 2.9 offensive rebounds per game and that dropped to 1.9 in his first season with the Cavs.
Love seems to play better when he gets involved in the offense early on. His effort is better on defense as well. He was getting more touches before Kyrie got there and as a team they need to focus on getting Love the ball in the post earlier. He needs to start on the inside and then work his way outside. His offensive rebounding is up this season and he should pass his total from last season because he is getting the ball closer to the basket.
Love has been getting killed recently all over social media. People want him traded or benched. People are so quick to overreact after ever game. After beating the Clippers on Thursday night the Cavaliers are 9-2 this month with losses to the Spurs and Warriors. In those two games Love has looked bad especially against the Warriors.
In those 11 games Love has seven double-doubles including one against the Spurs despite his bad play on defense. There were plenty of times Love had a mismatch against the Warriors but the other Cavalier players would not pass him the ball in the post. Against a team like the Warriors throwing it in the post and slowing the game down is a good strategy. In two games since the Warriors blow out Love is averaging 17 and 17 while taking eight free throws a game.
On the season Love is still averaging 15.6 ppg and 10.9 rpg which is pretty good. He can be better if he gets a few more touches closer to the basket. He doesn’t have to always shoot when he touches the ball but he is a good passer and he can find a cutting LeBron or an open shooter. When he’s closer to the basket he can also draw more fouls. He only grabbed two offensive rebounds in the last two games but he has gone to the line 16 times because he is being more active.
As a team Cleveland has to continue to move the ball. As Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra always says, “Stay the course.” The Cavs can beat lower tier teams by playing Iso ball but they can’t beat the elite teams that way. Against the Nets the Cavs had 15 assists and were in control the entire game. In the game against the Clippers the Cavaliers had 15 assists on 20 made baskets in the first half. They finished the game with 29 assists.
LeBron James had 12 assists and 0 turnovers. It was only the second game this season he had 0 turnovers but in that previous game he played less than 30 minutes. The entire starting five scored in double figures and every one was willing to make the extra pass. Love got the ball in the post and the Cavs moved the ball the entire game which led to open 3-pointers, they were 13-28 from 3-point range.
In the game against the Spurs the Cavaliers were up 12 points after the 1st quarter. They moved the ball and had six assists in the quarter. For the rest of the game they only had nine assists. They were outscored 79-63 the rest of the game and looked overmatched.
If the Cavs want to win a championship they need to “stay the course” and move the ball. Kevin Love needs to touch the ball in the post more. Kyrie needs to dribble a little less and LeBron needs to attack and pass even more. Stop holding the ball and this team will be fine going forward.