The real Kevin Love: How quickly they forgot

JR Isaga
The real Kevin Love: How quickly they forgot

AFP

Now more than ever, the Cleveland Cavaliers could use a little more Love

Isaiah Thomas hyped up the fans in Boston and said that Game 2 would be a different game.

He was right, to some extent, as the Cleveland Cavaliers now wrecked the Celtics by 44 points, 130-86, instead of just 13 in Game 1. This has been the worst loss by a first seeded team in NBA playoff history.

As of this moment, haters from around the world are frantically searching a target to unleash their pent-up rage at the reality that the Cavaliers are just too good. Allusions to Michael Jordan, recollections of the 2011 Finals, you name it, it’s in the comment section once again.

Amid all the chaos and steaming hatred for LeBron James, one player is seemingly lost in the social media spotlight yet again: Kevin Love. Perhaps out with a vengeance against Kelly Olynyk for the shoulder dislocation incident two years prior that sidelined him for the rest of the playoffs, Love dropped a personal playoff-high 32 points and grabbed 12 boards in their first meeting in the postseason since that incident.

Not that being shunned from the spotlight is anything new to the former Minnesota Timberwolves superstar. In his first year away from the struggling T-Wolves as a member of the contending Cavaliers, he became the third option behind James and Kyrie Irving. His season averages dropped from 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds a game to just 16.4 points – a near-10 point drop – and 9.7 rebounds a game in his first season as a Cavalier.

In an interview with USA Today just before the Celtics series, Love said he doesn’t care about his reduced role.

“I told Lue, ‘We’re 8-0. I don’t mind it.’ If I get 5 or 6 shots, if I get 15 shots, it doesn’t matter to me, as long as we win. I’ve been in this position before. We’re having success so I’m happy. Feels good.”

This quote just says a lot about who Love has become. A superstar once tired of losing with a franchise going nowhere, he is now content in his place in Cleveland with the load on his back being significantly lighter, and is mature enough to know that he doesn’t need elite averages or to play 40 minutes a night to succeed.

Here is a man who was benched the entire fourth quarter when his team was down by 26 at halftime to the Indiana Pacers. He didn’t ask to be put back in the game and just waved towels along with the other bench scrubs as James single-handedly whupped the Pacers and stole the win back.

But people forget that he is still a superstar. He is just 28 years old and is still very much capable of producing monstrous Minnesota-like numbers when needed, as proved by Games 1 and 2. People always talk about how it is “The Cleveland Show with LeBron and Kyrie feat. Kevin” and we can’t really fault them for it. After all, it was James and Irving who carried the Cavaliers without him in 2015 and they were the ones who stole the show in next year’s finals as they came back from a 3-1 series deficit against the Golden State Warriors.

Amid all that, Love used his reduced status to his advantage. It’s no coincidence that the Cavaliers were nearly eliminated in the 2016 finals when he was out yet again with an injury and rallied back when he returned in Game 5. He understood that he wasn’t at full strength so instead, he did the little things to help out. In hindsight, the little things, such as locking down Steph Curry on defense in the final seconds of Game 7, don’t look so little after all.

The Cavaliers are now 13-0 in the playoffs since Game 5 – one win short of tying the record for the longest postseason winning streak in NBA history. However, the championship is still far away for the Cavaliers. Now more than ever, Cleveland could use a little more Love. – Rappler.com

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