CLEVELAND: Cleveland forward Kevin Love’s status remains uncertain for Wednesday’s (Thursday in Manila) crucial third game of the NBA Finals after suffering a concussion in the Cavaliers’ Game 2 loss to defending champion Golden State.
Love did not take part in practice and Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said that a decision will be made Wednesday on Love, who has shown improvement since being struck in the back of the head by the left elbow of Golden State’s Harrison Barnes.
“He flew back with the team. He’s feeling better, but right now he’s just in the concussion protocol, and we won’t know until tomorrow,” Lue said. “What will I do if he doesn’t play? I’m not going to tell you. I’m sorry. That’s fair.”
Love’s fellow front-line Cavaliers starter Tristan Thompson was more optimistic that the 27-year-old who spent six seasons with Minnesota will be ready for game three.
“K-Love is good. He’s in the back now,” Thompson said. “I’m glad it’s nothing serious. I’m no doctor but he looks fine to me. As long as Kevin is smiling, I’m happy.”
Love contributed 16 points and 10 rebounds a game this season for the Cavaliers. He missed most of last year’s playoff run to the finals with a separated shoulder.
Love played much of the second quarter after taking the blow and showed no ill effects at half-time, Lue said. But he said Love was dizzy as he tried to play early in the third quarter and did not return to the eventual 110-77 Warriors’ romp, which gave Golden State a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven championship series.
“It’s going to be the next man up,” said Cavaliers star LeBron James. “We’re down 0-2, and we can’t afford to look and say, “Wow, Kev’s not playing. What are we going to do?’
“It’s next man up because it’s a must-win for us. Obviously his health is very important, but in the situation we’re in now, we’ve got to stay confident and whoever coach decides to give the nod to has got to be ready to go, and everybody else has to step up.”
NBA rules regarding concussions outline the process Love must complete before being able to return, including symptom-free exercises and medical exams.
Russian center Timofey Mozgov must be prepared to replace Love, Lue said, without committing to inserting him in the lineup.
“Timo has to be ready. There’s a chance for him to play,” Lue said. “We’ve talked about that as a staff. You just have to be ready to play and we’ll see what happens from there.”
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he was not expecting much change in quality from Cleveland no matter what Love’s fate.
“We just expect Cleveland to play well regardless of which individual players we’re talking about,” Kerr said.