The Cavs are coming off a hard-fought win over the Chicago Bulls last night. After a lackluster first half defensively, the team responded with a lot of energy in the second half. Two huge offensive rebounds when they had a six-point lead with under two minutes left sealed the game. The Cavs are now sitting at 3-1 as they head into Wednesday’s matchup against the Nets.
Even with their 3-1 record through their first four games, you could still argue that the team hasn’t performed up to par of what many expected. With a completely new roster and daily lineup changes, you could say these struggles shouldn’t be much of a surprise. There have been two players who have really shined through all of the Cavs’ inconsistencies shown early on. The most obvious one is LeBron James. The other is one of the more criticized players on the team over the last couple years.
That person is Kevin Love.
Before the season started, Ty Lue made what could be considered a bold statement. He predicted that this would be Kevin Love’s best season as a Cavalier. Lue also noted that they planned to make him more of a focal point on offense as well with the absence of Kyrie Irving. So far, Kevin Love has been the second-best player on the court this season behind LeBron James.
Love has recorded a double-double in three of the four games this year. He missed that mark by one rebound in their game against the Magic. We all know being a double-double machine is nothing new for him, though. His biggest area of improvement is in his defense. He’s been effective at center when they’ve run small ball lineups before, but that still doesn’t make the position move he made before the season any easier. He’s been way more physical down low this season and is leading the team in defensive rebounds despite the fact he is undersized for the position.
On offense, he’s been a nice safety net for LeBron James to work with. Before last night’s lineup change, LeBron and Kevin were the only two starters from the previous year. Because of this, everyone’s timing and spacing has looked off during certain points of the game, especially in the first quarter. During those periods, the continuity that already existed between Love and James has been crucial. They’ve been able to use this to salvage multiple possessions. The more they’re able to build this on-court chemistry in the new guys, the more they will be able to utilize Kevin Love’s passing ability in transition as well.
The team should continue to run the offense through Kevin Love moving forward. Relying on Kevin Love to facilitate from the post should alleviate some of the focus on LeBron while he’s being asked to run the point. When LeBron is handling the ball, their pick and roll game will expose a few matchup nightmares for the defenders of both players. The addition of JR back into the starting lineup will bring another excellent shooter that both LeBron and Love can find when they have the ball.
Now, I’ve spent the entirety of this article praising Kevin Love, so I’ll end it with the biggest flaw he’s shown so far. He really needs to work on his handshake game with Wade.
Shades of Delly and LeBron pic.twitter.com/DnWNdC7T8K
— Cleveland Sports Talk (@CLEsportsTalk) October 25, 2017
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