In case you missed it, Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers is likely to miss the rest of the NBA playoffs due to a dislocated shoulder injury he sustained in their series against the Boston Celtics. After easing their way through the first round, the Cavaliers were heavy favorites to win the NBA Finals among many analysts. But then Love was ruled out for the next few series, and most likely the rest of the playoffs, and things completely changed. Despite this, many people still believe the Cavs have a chance to win with the likes of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and J.R. Smith. However, I don’t think the Cavs have any chance to win the championship without Kevin Love in their lineup.
This season, Kevin Love played the second most minutes for the Cavaliers behind only Kyrie Irving, and he had the third highest player efficiency rating on the team. This is a huge loss in scoring production and player efficiency that the Cavs will have trouble replacing. Currently, Tristan Thompson is second on the depth chart behind Love and will likely be his replacement for now. Thompson averaged half the points per game that Love did during the regular season and his 3-point shooting is nonexistent, so that eliminates the threat from the outside for that position. Sure, there are several formidable players that will be able to step up and make up for the lost scoring and such, but they have some big shoes to fill.
Most aren’t worried about the fact that LeBron is losing a member of the Cavs’ Big Three since he dealt with a similar situation back in the 2012 playoffs with the Miami Heat when Chris Bosh missed 9 games with a lower abdominal strain. Be that as it may, this is a completely different situation for many reasons and is no indication of how James and the Cavaliers will handle it this time. First of all, the Heat were far and away the best team in the league that year and were comfortably handling opponents in the regular and post season. Though the Cavs had a great regular season, there were many more teams that performed at a higher level and proved they could beat the King. The one redeeming part that gives the Cavs some hope is that they’re playing in a rather weak Eastern conference so their chances of getting to the Finals are better than if they were in the Western conference. Nevertheless, if they do reach the NBA Finals, they’ll be playing against the likes of a strong Golden State or Houston team.
Additionally, LeBron was the MVP that season and posted one of the highest efficiency ratings of all time that year. He is still playing at a very high level, but a huge load has been taken off of his shoulder this year by having a much more well-rounded team with the Cavs and being able to distribute more of the work to other players. Now that LeBron is gonna need to carry more of the weight, he will face much more pressure (which I don’t doubt he can handle) and will need to return to the type of playing he had a few years ago. Let’s not forget about Kyrie Irving, though – he’ll be able to help LeBron but his lack of playoff experience and youth could cause problems.
The injury to Kevin Love is a major one that will most likely cost Cleveland a championship this year. It’s a shame it had to go down this way, but injuries are a part of sports and if the Cavs can somehow pull this off I will be truly amazed.
This article is a part of our ongoing “Opposites Attack” series where we aim to play devil’s advocate on hot topics in the sports and entertainment world while providing a fresh perspective of these subjects.
Featured Image: USA Today