Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love was in danger of missing Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals. He suffered a concussion in the sixth contest of the Eastern Conference Finals and was forced to miss Game 7 against the Boston Celtics.
Cleveland survived without him, earning an 87-79 victory to advance to the Finals. But they would have almost no chance against the defending champion Golden State Warriors without him.
The Cavs don’t have to worry about this, though, because Love has passed the league’s concussion protocol. This means that he’ll be available for tonight’s game.
Love bumped heads with Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum on a screen. Taytum was okay to continue playing, but Love was taken out of the game and also missed Game 6.
He participated in shooting drills on Wednesday. But it was only today that he was cleared to compete in the first Finals contest.
Jeff Green started in place of Love and delivered a strong Game 7 performance with 19 points. Green provided much-needed support for a team that’s been largely carried by LeBron James throughout the 2018 postseason.
According to ESPN, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue has already said that Love will recclaim his starting role if he passed the concussion protocol.
What will Love Give Cleveland against Golden State?
Love is having a tough playoff run, averaging 13.9 points on just 38.8% shooting from the floor. Nevertheless, he’s the perfect center against Golden State, because he’s a versatile offensive player who can help Cleveland withstand the Warriors’ small ball lineup.
Love is also averaging 10.0 rebounds in the playoffs. And he played well against Golden State in both games this year, averaging 24.0 points and 12.5 rebounds per game.
Odds on Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals
The Cleveland Cavaliers may have gotten good news upon learning that Kevin Love will play in tonight’s game. But this doesn’t change the fact that they’re huge underdogs in the 2018 Finals.
Here are our GTBets odds on the first contest:
- Cleveland Cavaliers +13 (-111); +707 moneyline
- Golden State Warriors -13 (-107); -893 moneyline
- Over 215 (-104)
- Under 215 (-114)
The problem with Cleveland is that they don’t have a lot of star power outside of LeBron James.
Players like Green, Love, Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith can step up when needed. But they still don’t offer the consistent performances that stars have.
This is where Golden State differs greatly, because they have four All-Stars in Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. They also have a strong bench that includes Shaun Livingston, Andre Iguodala, and David West.
Some analysts question whether Cleveland can even win a game. In last year’s NBA Finals meeting between these teams, Golden State won handily in five games. The Cavs shot the lights out in the one contest that they did win.
Cleveland had All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving on their team last year, which gave them more of a chance to compete. This year will be an even tougher battle, because Love hasn’t played great and there are no other All-Star level players on the roster.