The Cleveland Cavaliers’ dreams of an NBA title became a little cloudy Tuesday when the team’s general manager, David Griffin, revealed that Kevin Love, the Cavs’ versatile power forward, would likely be out for the rest of the season with a severe left shoulder injury.
“The damage to his shoulder is extensive,” said Griffin. “This is not a situation where we are expecting that he will be available for any of [the playoffs].”
The injury, which includes a torn labrum, occurred Sunday when Love’s left arm was caught between the arms of Boston Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk in the midst of the players jostling for a loose ball in the first quarter of the Cavs’ 101-93 win to sweep the best-of-seven series 4-0.
Although Love struggled to find a comfort zone in the Cavs’ offense for much of his initial season with the team, the seven-year veteran still averaged a solid 16.7 points and 9.7 rebounds in 75 regular season games. Love’s production and ability to step outside beyond the 3-point line, opening up driving lanes for LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, was a crucial aspect of the Cavs’ offense.
Add to his absence the loss of J.R. Smith, who is suspended for the opening two games of the next round—where it’s nearly certain they’ll face the Chicago Bulls—for a flagrant foul Sunday, and the Cavs’ path through the Eastern Conference to the NBA finals will be rocky. The Bulls are up 3-2 versus the youthful Milwaukee Bucks with Game 6 tonight (Thursday) in Milwaukee.
In the other conference series, the Washington Wizards annihilated the Toronto Raptors 4-0 and await the winner of the Atlanta Hawks-Brooklyn Nets series, which was tied 2-2 going into Game 5 last night in Atlanta.