Cavs: Kevin Love’s inexcusable display discounts quality team effort at Raps

Cleveland Cavaliers big Kevin Love handles the ball. (Photo by Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports)
Cleveland Cavaliers big Kevin Love handles the ball. (Photo by Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Cleveland Cavaliers were not exactly set up for success in their outing at the Toronto Raptors, well in Tampa, on Monday. The Cavs were down seven players, and the likes of Matthew Dellavedova (neck strain), Isaiah Hartenstein (concussion) and Lamar Stevens (concussion) sustained injuries in Cleveland’s Sunday loss at the Washington Wizards.

Along with that, unfortunately, in what’s been an injury-filled season for him, Larry Nance Jr. fractured his right thumb in that Wizards game, also, and it’s uncertain if we’ll see him in action again this campaign.

From there, this Monday Raptors game was set to be the second leg of a back-to-back, and with Cleveland so thin in this one, it was unclear how this team would respond. All things considered, though, the club played well for nearly three quarters, which was nice to see.

Isaac Okoro had a career/season-high 20 points on eight-of-16 shooting, and though the three-point looks weren’t going down for him, he was decisive as a driver from the wing and was productive inside.

Darius Garland had 10 assists, Jarrett Allen had a solid outing with 15 points and seven rebounds, Dean Wade played nice defense I thought, and Damyean Dotson in his first game back after an extended absence from knee soreness. He had 11 points, which included going two-of-four from three-point range, to go with five rebounds and two assists in 24 minutes; it has admittedly been a rough season for Dotson, though.

In any case, the Cavs being right in this one until the closing nearly half-minute of the third quarter was still impressive, albeit one awful moment from Kevin Love largely dimished the quality team effort to that point.

Love was, as Chris Fedor of emphasized, frustrated after being bumped into the shanchion by Toronto’s Freddie Gillespie and glared at referee Courtney Kirkland near the end of third quarter after a made layup by the Raptors’ Malachi Flynn.

A few minutes prior to that, he was bumped from behind by Toronto’s Khem Birch in a defensive sequence, was favoring his right knee and showed that while taking free throws, as The Athletic‘s Kelsey Russo touched on (subscription required). But clearly, his display near the end of the third quarter had no rationalization.

Circling back, following the bump by Gillespie after the aforementioned Flynn drive, then when the ball was tossed to him pre-in-bound, he essentially batted it back in play. That led to an inexplicable turnover, and shortly thereafter, Toronto ended up hitting a three-point look, and it was apparent that the play was deflating; he didn’t do anything in terms of trying to defend in that sequence, either.

The Cavaliers ended up going from down by two possessions to down 11, and that Love frustration was a key reason for that, and one truly can’t explain that one. Love didn’t play the rest of the contest from there, and reportedly went to the locker room even before the final buzzer sounded, per Fedor.

This simply can’t happen.

Love’s inexcusable display discounted what was largely a quality Cavs team effort at the Raps.

Quite simply, this boneheaded moment, brain fart, display of frustration leading to essentially a free bucket near the end of the quarter can’t happen. There’s no rationalizing of it.

Love is one of the key leaders for the Cavaliers, and though he’s not nearly what he once was, of which injuries haven’t helped with, with the respect he has from his teammates and being the club’s most accomplished veteran, this is untenable. Love’s a five-time All-Star, was a part of the Cavaliers 2016 NBA title squad, and has was a key part of the Wine and Gold during their outstanding run to four straight NBA Finals.

Point being, this is anything but the right example to set for young players, such as Darius Garland, Collin Sexton, Okoro and others.

It unfortunately discounts what had been a quality team effort to that point by a shorthanded Cavs squad in that Toronto game, too. And from that point, while the Cavaliers would get their way back into things, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and the Raptors would eventually pull away.

Plus, while it hasn’t appeared to be the case this season, Love had multiple occasions last season where his frustration in-game/on the bench in games versus the Oklahoma City Thunder and in Toronto were childish displays.

This is another one of those type of displays, as Fedor expressed, and it is now diminishing what had been a commendable team effort for much of this past game, which is a shame, honestly. And now Okoro’s night is glossed over, for example.

On the slightest positive note, as was the case after those displays of frustration last season by Love, per Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff and via Fedor, Love did apologize for this to his teammates.

Also, the Cavaliers will reportedly address the Love situation “internally,” on that note, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, and will be “focused on turning the page” after Love apologized.

But as Fedor hit on, a fine and/or suspension should realistically play out here. This is not the first time this sort of display has been shown by Love in-game, and this needs to be addressed. The dude’s a veteran, and there’s no excusing it, even with the Cavs now losers of six of seven and still with virtually now shot at a play-in berth.

Will we see a potential summer buyout, as Fedor suggested as perhaps a possibility? We’ll have to see, and I’m not sure regarding that just yet, albeit this kind of behavior is hardly the way to set an example for young players.

And Love’s set to make over $31 million this season.

The Cavs’ young guys look up to Love, as Fedor emphasized, but this sort of act on the floor from him simply can’t happen.

He frankly should probably be fined and likely benched or potentially suspended for a few games, because that sort of behavior in-game is so deflating to a team, let alone one playing so many young players.

Next. Deep range continues to pay dividends for Garland. dark

We’ll ultimately see what happens, though. Regardless, that kind of thing is getting so old from Love, factoring in last season.