Cleveland Cavaliers forwards Kevin Love happy to be back after ‘mentally-taxing’ absence


Andrew Lopespan

For Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers, the return of his right calf injury, which limited him to two games before Friday’s 116-82 loss against the New Orleans Pelicans, was more of a mental hurdle than anything else.

But when he returned to the floor, if only for ten minutes, he felt like himself again.

Playing basketball is what I like to do. That’s just me, Love told reporters after the game. I lost it last year and I was unlucky with an injury, but most of all it’s a great joy to be back. Business will pick up. It will probably be a few weeks before I feel like myself again. But more than anything, I wanted to be out there on the field.

Love admitted that his independence was the biggest obstacle to his return to the field.

I don’t want to talk about hyperbole [or] taking it off the top, but it’s probably the biggest mental load, not the most physical, but definitely the biggest mental load for me, Love said.

Initially expected to miss three to four weeks, Lubov has missed 33 consecutive games with the injury. Friday was his first game since the 27th. December. It’s disappointing for Love, because at training camp he said he felt incredible, adding that he hadn’t felt this good in years.

When the injury occurred at camp, he quickly learned the level of stress and the healing process.

Love said it was just mental toast. I am so tired of cycling and using the VersaClimber. There has never been a time in my life when I wanted to sprint longer than 2-3 weeks.

I came back and had a great workout. I think it was after 8 weeks. I had a good workout. The next day, it was time: Ah, I feel a little sore. Mentally I felt the same, like I had to take that step. Then it was time to get through the All-Star break. I went back and made a small breakthrough.

Now I hope the wind beneath me will pick up in the coming weeks. I’m starting to feel like myself again and I’m not suffering so much anymore. The pain in his calf was gone. I hope to get many more of my lifts back in this time.

Coach Kavalerov J. Б. Bickerstaff said Love will be an important piece of the team’s puzzle for the rest of the season.

It’s fascinating to see what you can do for him at the 4 position and how hard he is to guard, where are the ways to create fouls, all those things were there, Bickerstaff said. You need to get the rust off. You have to be comfortable to get back to the speed of the game. But it will be very useful when we get there.

Cleveland gained a valuable piece Friday night with Larry Nance Jr. back in the lineup. The versatile forward scored 11 points and grabbed four rebounds in 28 minutes in his first appearance in more than a month with a broken finger in his left hand.

Love played two five-minute games in the first half and did not return to action in the second half. He finished the game with four points and one rebound on 1-of-4 shots from the field, 1-of-3 from three-point range and 1-of-2 from the free throw line.

Aside from the shot percentage, all that mattered to Love was that he was playing basketball again.

There was a lot of free time. I’m just happier than anything to be here, Love said. I could have shot 0 in 50 and been satisfied.

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