Cavs' Love in concussion protocol, but takes part in shootaround

ByDave McMenamin ESPN logo
Friday, June 10, 2016

CLEVELAND -- Cavaliers forward Kevin Loveparticipated fully in shootaround on Friday morning, and will be re-evaluated when he arrives at Quicken Loans Arena prior to Game 4 of the NBA Finals later in the day.

Love, who was hurt in Game 2, was taking jump shots when the media was allowed in after the Cavs' shootaround Friday morning. He's still following the NBA's concussion protocol, four days after getting hit in the back of the head by Golden State Warriors swingman Harrison Barnes in Game 2.

Love also worked out some Thursday, practicing post moves with assistant coach Vitaly Potapenko for approximately 20 minutes in front of media. He looked spry as he completed a series of jump shots, drop steps and dunks around the basket.

"After the workout, it has to take 24 hours for the NBA protocol," coach Tyronn Lue said Thursday. "So once he works out today, it takes 24 hours to see him again to see if everything adds up. I'm not sure what goes into it. But now he had a great workout, and now it takes 24 hours to come and re-evaluate him."

Richard Jefferson played capably in Love's absence in Game 3, putting up nine points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals as a fill-in starter at small forward, with LeBron James shifting to the 4 spot.

Jefferson said Friday that he hadn't been informed of a decision on Love.

"I try and approach it all the same way," he said. "Have to have that always ready mindset. Starting or not starting, it is all the same approach."

After losing by a combined 48 points in Games 1 and 2 with Love in the lineup and then winning by 30 in Game 3 without him, Lue was asked if he would consider bringing Love off the bench in Game 4 should the three-time All-Star be medically cleared.

"Haven't thought about it yet," Lue said. "Hopefully just trying to get Kevin healthy is the most important thing right now."

When asked to make a statement about the idea that the Cavs could be better off without Love for the rest of the series, Lue responded flatly, "I'm not giving a statement."

Lue said that the team dedicated their effort to Love before the game.

"It was tough," Lue said. "He wanted to play. He was very upset about the situation, but the guys said, 'We're going to win this game for you.' And LeBron and Kyrie [Irving] and those guys told him, 'Tonight we're going to win this game for you, so get yourself healthy, get yourself back.' He was all happy after the game. And they told him, 'Kevin, this was for you.'

"So it was a big moment for us, but we definitely need him back."

James also shared his recollection of the moment.

"Well, I just seen it on his face yesterday when we were all in the locker room, and it was that I-hate-that-I'm-going-through-this moment," James recalled. "I-feel-like-I'm-letting-you-guys-down moment without him actually even saying it. So before we left the locker room, I know Kyrie embraced him. I did as well. Told him, don't worry about it. We've got him tonight. This is what a team is all about, for them to pick their brother up in a time of need, and him not to put too much pressure on himself or the team, and that we're going to try to take care of business, which we were able to do.

"So I know it was uplifting to him, for sure, and it was for our team as well."

Coincidentally, Love said he made up his mind to return to Cleveland as a free agent in Game 3 of last year's Finals, when he was sidelined after shoulder surgery and could only watch from the bench as the Cavs went up 2-1 on the Warriors.

He said he turned down meetings with other teams and re-signed with the Cavaliers on the first day of free agency to have that winning feeling.

Love lobbied against the league's decision to hold him out Wednesday, according to multiple sources, and was upset that he was forced to sit out as part of the protocol.

"Well, I know he definitely wanted to play, for sure," said Irving. "Looking in his eyes, knowing in his heart, being at the Finals is what we've both dreamt of. Knowing the magnitude of the game and knowing the challenges that we face going into Game 3, we needed a full team effort, and he was there in spirit, and we just knew that we had to take care of business for him, and we did that. And going out and doing what we did in Game 3 was definitely a valiant effort for him, and we dedicated that game to him."

Love had 17 points and 13 rebounds in Game 1, but just five points and three rebounds in Game 2 before the collision with Barnes.

"We definitely need him back," said Lue. "We miss his rebounding. We miss his post presence. We miss his 3-point shooting. So we definitely want him back, but he has to take the steps necessary to get himself back.

"So [I am] just staying positive with him. We know it's a tough time being in the NBA Finals. It's something you dreamed about your whole life, and having to deal with this is tough. But myself, my coaching staff, teammates, we all have his back and we wish him well and need him back."

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