Kevin Love return sparks Cleveland Cavaliers win

Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images
Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images /

The Cleveland Cavaliers got a much-needed return from Kevin Love on Monday as they defeated the Milwaukee Bucks. Will he continue to fit in with the new-look team?

He’s baaaaack. It was music to the ears of Cleveland Cavaliers players and fans to see Kevin Love back in the lineup on Monday.

Love was supposed to be out for 6-8 weeks, but he believed that he could come back before then. It’s only been seven total weeks since the left hand injury.

The presence of Love was felt immediately by the team as he grabbed two quick rebounds on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. It seems like it’s been decades since a Cavaliers player besides LeBron James grabbed a board on each end.

He continued to show he was back by nailing a deep 3-pointer at the top of the key.

While the shot was something to watch, the biggest thing about it was the floor-spacing. This is something that has been missing from the team for weeks. There was somebody always open with ball movement.

It’s the benefit a team has when you have a center that can play inside and outside. While he’s getting single- or double-teamed by smaller players, their man is going to be open to either shoot or penetrate to the basket with ease.

Once the Cavs get Rodney Hood, Larry Nance Jr. and Cedi Osman back, I think the team will be almost impossible to guard with Love out there. Kyle Korver was definitely happy to have open looks again.

Hood and Osman will have more open shots than they could have ever imagined. They both won’t have to work as hard to create it. They will also be able to take their defender to the hole if they choose to.

However, I think Nance will benefit the most from Love’s return.

The pick-and-roll will definitely be a factor between the two. I can already see Nance setting the pick for Love, he goes around it, and throws an open alley-oop to him.

I can also see Nance setting the pick as he draws the defense in, and passing it back out to Love off the pick-and-pop for an easy 3-pointer.

The possibilities are endless.

I was curious to see how Ante Zizic and Love would play together, but coach Larry Drew subbed them both in and out. Zizic is getting better with each game. He showed it again with 13 points, six rebounds and one block.

He would be even better with Love back at power forward. While opposing defenders are worried about him going to the outside, the inside would be open for Zizic. The way he makes plays off short rolls and screens, he could possibly average a double-double.

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I know, it’s still early in Zizic’s development, but it shows you how big of a difference Love makes. I’ve been his harshest critic for years. I always thought he played soft, he didn’t play enough defense, etc. But you realize during his absences how important he is to the team.

He makes everything much easier for his teammates, and he’s a nightmare for opposing defenders. Now with Nance, the Cavs can hide his defense and let him worry about rebounding and scoring.

It was great for the Cavaliers to have their All-star back on the floor. The offense had its old flow back. Shot attempts were easier, the spacing was great, and most importantly, James didn’t have to work at a superhero level.

Love finished with 18 points, seven boards and two blocks — not bad at all. James still put up another triple-double at 40 points, 10 assist and 12 rebounds, but that’s just LeBron.

It was a great win against a tough, young Milwaukee Bucks team. They’re still trying to figure their club out with Jabari Parker finding a role and the team being reunited with veteran Brandon Jennings.

The Cavs will have their biggest test of the season against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday. The hope is that Tristan Thompson and Hood can return. Osman is still out another week with a hip injury.

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Just as the old adage goes, Love makes all the difference in the world.