Kevin Love started for Cleveland in Games 1 and 2 of the NBA Finals, and the Cavaliers got trounced by Golden State.
Love wasn’t able to play in Game 3 on Wednesday because of a concussion he sustained during the previous game, and this time it was LeBron James and Co. that did the trouncing with a 120-90 victory to pull to a 2-1 series deficit.
Assuming Love is cleared by the league to play on Friday night – which isn’t a given at this point – Coach Tyronn Lue has a decision to make.
And apparently it won’t be an easy one.
Asked by Yahoo Sports how Love would fit into Friday’s game plan if he’s able to play, Lue simply stated, “I haven’t thought about it.”
He said that about a guy who started 77 games this season and signed a five-year, $110-million contract extension last off-season.
That kind of says something. Love had solid numbers in Game 1 against the Warriors (17 points, 13 rebounds with two assists, one steal and four turnovers), but was pretty ineffective in Game 2 (five points and three rebounds with no assists, one steal and one turnover) before leaving in the third quarter after getting elbowed in the head by Golden State’s Harrison Barnes in the second quarter.
On Wednesday, Richard Jefferson started in Love’s place and gave his team nine points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals. More than that, he seemed to give the Warriors a spark.
"Putting Richard Jefferson in the starting lineup, I just think he gave us speed," Lue said. "I thought he gave us the physicality on Harrison Barnes, and that we were able to slide LeBron over to Draymond Green, which helped us out a lot. We were able to switch pick-and-rolls and things like that. So just being able to get up the floor offensively, pushing the ball, pushing the tempo, and R.J.'s aggressiveness on the defensive end."
James said: “I gave the game ball to R.J.”
But Jefferson had Love’s back after the game.
“We’re in this together,” Jefferson said. “We’ve all picked each other up. You have to go with the next-man-up mentality. He is definitely one of the top players in this league. It’s our job to just hold on until he can get back."