When it comes to Kevin Love, less has been more for the Cavaliers’ 14-year veteran this season.
Injuries have followed Love like his shadow in recent years. Last season a calf injury limited him to 25 games. He has already played 31 games this season. The only time he missed so far was eight games early in the campaign when he was in the COVID protocol.
Coach J.B. Bickerstaff has made a point to reduce Love’s playing time. Love played fewer than 20 minutes in 13 of his first 25 games in 2021-22. His playing time increased the last five games, but his 21.8 minutes per game is still more than three minutes a game less than he averaged last season.
“Our aim is to get him to play more games and make sure he’s healthy to play more nights,” Bickerstaff said on Zoom after a recent practice. “The only games he missed were because of COVID. There hasn’t been an injury out for him. What’s impressive is how productive he can be in those minutes.”
Going back to 2014-15, Love’s first season in Cleveland after six in Minnesota, the son of former NBA player Stan Love started 373 of the 374 games he played with the Cavaliers. He missed 22 games in 2016-17, 23 the following season and 60 games in 2018-19. He missed nine games in the COVID-shortened 2019-20 season and 47 games in 2020-21.
Love has started only two games this season. He has accepted his role coming off the bench and flourished because his attitude and skills are in sync.
“I have trust in J.B. That’s just what it comes down to,” Love said in December. “I’ve had a great relationship with him since I came into this league. He was the first coach to really believe in me in this league.
“I listen to J.B. I see eye to eye with him. And for me, it was easy to buy in when I saw how hard these guys work, how they show up to work every single day and just chase the game. I love it. It’s infectious to be around.”
Bickerstaff was an assistant coach with the Timberwolves for Love’s first three seasons in Minnesota.
Drafting Evan Mobley and acquiring Lauri Markkanen via trade has taken a load off Love. Though his playing time has decreased, his production has increased. He is averaging 14.5 points a game. Last year he averaged 12.2 a contest. His rebounding has increased from 7.4 a game last season to 7.6 this year. Not a dramatic difference to be sure, but Love is happy in his new role, and a happy Kevin Love is good for the Cavaliers’ realistic goal of making the playoffs for the first time since 2018.
• NBA All-Star voting is a joke. It is always a joke when fans are given a voice in an All-Star game or, in the case of the NFL, the Pro Bowl, but it is especially farcical in the NBA where the fan vote counts 50 percent of the total votes. A media panel counts for 25 percent and a player ballot counts for another 25 percent. The media panel and players each vote once. A player can vote for himself or teammates.
So why do I say fan voting is a farce? Because Kyrie Irving of the Nets is ahead of Darius Garland of the Cavaliers among guards in the Eastern Conference. Irving is sixth with 267,929 votes. Garland is ninth with 119,399 votes. Irving has played one game this season. Garland has been a catalyst for the Cavaliers’ surprising success.
The NBA All-Star game is set for Feb. 20 at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.
Fans can vote once a day by going to NBA.com. Voting ends on Jan. 22. As it stands now, any Cavaliers making the All-Star game will have to be selected as a reserve.
DeMar DeRozan of the Bulls (1,487,598) and James Harden of the Nets (892,065) lead the Eastern Conference guards.
Center Jarrett Allen is the highest-ranked Cavaliers in fan voting among front-court players. He is sixth with 168,069 votes. The top three front-court vote getters are Kevin Durant of the Nets (2,360,465), Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Bucks (2,145,835) and Joel Embiid of the 76ers (1,236,060).
I didn’t know that
… until I read my Snapple bottle cap.
An electric eel can release a charge powerful enough to start 50 cars. … It is impossible to fold a piece of paper in half more than seven times. … Ketchup was once sold as a medicine. … A duck can’t walk without bobbing its head. … Strawberries taste sweeter at room temperature. … Antarctica is home to the largest desert in the world. The Antarctic Polar Desert covers about 5.5 million square miles.