NBA

Kevin Love returns from injury to give Cleveland Cavaliers much-needed boost

Jay Asser 20:33 20/03/2018
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Kevin Love is the only other recent All-Star on the Cavaliers after LeBron James.

It’s been difficult to judge the Cleveland Cavaliers without their second All-Star in the lineup and Kevin Love reminded of what was missing in his first game back from injury.

The forward had 18 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two blocks in the Cavaliers’ 124-117 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday after returning from a broken left hand that kept him out 20 games.

Love was limited to 25 minutes but still finished as Cleveland’s second-highest scorer behind LeBron James, shooting 5-of-13 from the field and 4-of-9 from long range.

“I felt pretty good,” Love said. “Initially, that first wind is always tough, but even after that I felt like my legs were underneath me and that I could’ve played a little bit more.”

Before suffering the hand injury on January 30, Love was averaging 17.9 points, 9.4 rebounds and shooting 40.4 per cent on 3-pointers.

In his absence, the Cavaliers managed an 11-9 record and blew up the roster with multiple deals at the trade deadline to reshape their team.

Not only has Love’s talent and versatility been missed, but so has his presence as a veteran for a side that has gotten much younger since the start of the season.

“First of all just having another body is great for our team,” James said. “Then just his basketball IQ, his familiarity with our system, he fits right back in. And his ability to stretch the floor allows opposing bigs not to just sit and clog up the paint. It’s great to have him back.”

Love, who revealed earlier this month that he suffers from anxiety, let loose at one point against the Bucks when he missed a corner 3-pointer. After falling on his back in front of Milwaukee’s bench, Love appeared to slither backwards up the court.

The move caught the attention of social media and Love couldn’t come up with much of an explanation after the game.

“I don’t know what the hell that was,” he said, via Cleveland.com. “I was just having fun.”

With Love back in the lineup for the stretch run, the Cavaliers as a whole may start having more fun.

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