Kevin Love will not play in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ decisive Game 7 on Sunday against the Boston Celtics, as the All-Star forward has been placed in the concussion protocol.
The Cavaliers announced that Love is experiencing concussion-like symptoms after his collision with the Celtics’ Jayson Tatum in the first quarter of Friday’s game.
Just before the team’s announcement, confusion had reigned over Love’s status. Coach Tyronn Lue initially stated during a conference call that Love was in the concussion protocol. He then backtracked after further questioning to say that Love was still being evaluated and that he didn’t know about the protocol process or whether Love would go into it.
Love missed a game in the 2016 Finals due to a concussion and also was out after a concussion in March.
Lue did not have an update on LeBron James, who tweaked his right leg when teammate Larry Nance Jr. crashed into him in the fourth quarter, but said he would be available for Sunday’s game.
The Cavaliers have played some of their best basketball this series when Love is off the court. Cleveland is minus-20 in point differential with Love in the game but plus-18 when he’s off. In fact, the team’s offensive efficiency spikes 11.8 points per 100 possessions without Love.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens noted how well the Cavaliers played without Love in Game 6 and said his team will prepare for how Cleveland looks different without him.
“We’ll have to prepare our team to play well regardless of who’s on the floor for them,” Stevens said. “[Love’s absence] changes some of the things they run, offensively. Obviously they have a package of Love plays that they go to on offense, so they end up doing more stuff with LeBron, I thought [George] Hill and [Jordan] Clarkson were good off pick-and-rolls last night, I thought that Jeff Green was really good, and I thought that they continued to have all of the different little wrinkles for [Kyle] Korver and [JR] Smith coming off the screens. Obviously, they run a little bit less of the Love stuff and more of the other stuff.”
Tatum was examined by team physicians when Boston gathered to watch film Saturday, and Stevens said there are currently no concerns about lingering issues for the 20-year-old rookie after the collision.
“We had our primary physician and our team doc both in here today checking on him. And he’s great,” Stevens said. “He felt great this morning, felt great last night when we landed, felt great after the game. Nothing there, as far as to be concerned about, but we will continue to check in.”