Kevin Love to Play Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals

kevin-love-concussion-game-7-concussionCleveland 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?

kevin-love-game-2-finals-2017Love 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.

Kevin Love to Miss Game 7 of Cavs Celtics Series with Concussion

kevin-love-concussion-game-7-concussionThe Cleveland Cavaliers have evened the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals at 3-3. But they’ll have an uphill battle to win Game 7 against the Boston Celtics, considering that starting power forward Kevin Love will miss the contest.

Cleveland announced that Love would be evaluated since he was suffering from concussion-like symptoms after Game 6. And the team’s NBA.com section has now stated that he won’t suit up for the deciding game of the series:

“Kevin Love was evaluated today prior to the team’s flight to Boston this afternoon. He is experiencing concussion-like symptoms and has been placed in the league’s concussion protocol. He is now listed as Out for tomorrow night’s game in Boston. His status will be updated as appropriate.”

How did Love’s Concussion Happen?

kevin-love-boston-concussionLove bumped heads with Boston forward Jayson Tatum during Game 6. He was setting a screen on the low block, when Tatum tried running around the screen and accidentally clashed heads with the Cleveland forward.

Tatum got the better end of the exchange, as he was able to remain in the game. Love, on the other hand, laid on the floor for a few minutes and eventually exited to the locker room for evaluation. He wouldn’t return to the game.

Who will Start in Love’s Place?

Jeff Green took over for Love and had a good game, scoring 14 points, grabbing three rebounds, blocking two shots, and dishing out two assists. He played 31 minutes in total and is a big reason why the Cavs were able to win and force a seventh game.

jeff-green-cavs-bostonGreen figures to take over for Love at power forward. He was already averaging over 20 minutes per game in the series. So, it won’t be a stretch for Green to take on a bigger role with Love out.

The other role players must step up too. Kyle Korver has had a good series so far, averaging 9.5 points on 50% shooting, including 48.8% shooting from beyond the arc. Korver’s ability to quickly hit three-pointers off screens has commanded a good deal of Boston’s defensive attention.

George Hill, who played poorly early on in the series, stepped up last game with 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting. He’ll be key to counteracting the offense that the Celtics have been getting from guards Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown.

Expect Another Big Effort from LeBron James

LeBron James has been phenomenal once again throughout the playoffs. This has continued into the Eastern Conference Finals, where he’s averaging 33.3 points, 8.3 assists, and 8.0 rebounds. He’s also shot 52.9% from the field and 41.7% from the three-point line.

lebron-james-cavs-pacers-2018-playoffs-oddsJames will probably need another triple-double performance in order to propel his team to victory. They’re already slight underdogs, because Game 7 is at TD Garden. And with their second-best player out, James will have to carry his team more than ever before.

He’s had no trouble stepping up to the occasion when needed. One needs only look back to last year’s finals, when he became the first player in NBA Finals history to average a triple-double. And he did it against the vaunted Golden State Warriors’ defense.

This Boston team—which is without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward—isn’t as good as last year’s champion Warriors squad. But without Love on the court, they could be just as big of a challenge.

Cavs Celtics Odds for Game 7 – Without Love

The line for Game 7 has already slightly moved with Love out. Cleveland was a +2 underdog before Love’s concussion was announced. Now, our GTBets’ point spread has the Cavs at +2.5. Their moneyline odds have also changed from +108 to +115 in the short time after Love’s absence has been made public.

It’s very possible that the line will continue to go in Boston’s favor. They’ve won all three games at home in the series. And the majority of analysts already think that they can take a seventh-and-deciding game in TD Garden.