The Cleveland Cavaliers will have to make due without forward Kevin Love for at least three to four weeks after the veteran aggravated an existing right calf injury during the Cavs’ big 118-94 upset win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday.
Love first sustained the ailment during the preseason a few weeks ago and was held out of the team’s season-opening victory over the Charlotte Hornets last week because of the calf issue, coming back to put up 15 and 9 in a 128-119 OT win in Cleveland’s second game of the season. The 32-year-old lasted just nine minutes into Sunday’s contest against Philly before the calf strain proved too big a problem to play through.
Cleveland is going to be cautious with Love moving forward, indicating that they will not be re-evaluating the big man at all before three weeks’ time. That means that depending on how the UCLA product’s rehab goes, this calf strain could keep him out for much longer than just a month.
The Santa Monica native had said recently that the original injury occurred when a kick to his leg caused swelling through his calf and down to his Achilles tendon, which is an area to always be very careful with when it comes to athletes, and especially hoopers.
J.B. Bickerstaff and his coaches no doubt expect the veteran Love to be a big part of leading what is a very young Cavaliers team that has finally shown a little bit of promise to open this campaign, starting 3-0 before falling to the Knicks on Tuesday without Love in the lineup.
They won their season opener without Love in there, however, and in that game Larry Nance Jr. made the start in his place and put up a double-double, also getting the starting nod against the Knicks. Barring any unforeseen circumstances you can expect Nance to soak up most of Love’s minutes, and with rookie Isaac Okoro also out for a bit, Nance is looking like a very attractive fantasy basketball pickup for the next month or so.
Cleveland has looked good to start the season, and hopefully the absence of Love’s veteran leadership does not stunt the growth we’ve seen. However, I would stay away from any wagers on Cleveland in their matchup with the Pacers on Thursday at -120 odds as +8.5 underdogs (22Bet) and take a wait and see approach with how this young team coalesces with a few guys missing.
In his seven years since leaving the Minnesota Timberwolves for Cleveland as a free agent, Love has averaged 17.2 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 2.2 threes per game with a 43/38/85 shooting line in his Cavalier threads. And, apart from this most recent injury, the age hasn’t shown with the five-time All-Star and NBA champion, as evidenced by his averages of 17.6 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists last season to go with a solid 45/37/85 shooting line.