Love travels with Cavs, status for rest of finals unclear
CLEVELAND (AP) Kevin Love was cleared to fly. His playing status remains up in the air.
Cleveland's forward, who sustained a concussion in the first half Sunday in a Game 2 NBA Finals loss to Golden State, traveled with his teammates on Monday as they regrouped. A Cavs spokesman said in an email that Love was on the team's flight from San Francisco to Cleveland.
It's not yet known if Love, who dislocated his left shoulder in the first round of last year's playoffs and missed the finals, will play again in the series. He is following the NBA's protocol on concussions, which requires that he's symptom free and passes certain requirements before he can be cleared by a physician to return to the court.
Game 3 is Wednesday night.
The loss of Love is another blow to the Cavs, who have been outclassed by the defending champion Warriors as Golden State appears in complete control of the series.
Love was inadvertently struck in the back of his head in the second quarter by Golden State forward Harrison Barnes while fighting for a rebound. Love immediately fell to the floor and grabbed his head as play continued. Draymond Green then scored on a layup and had to avoid landing on a prone Love.
The three-time All-Star was taken to the bench and checked by a Cavs trainer before returning to the game and making a 3-pointer. However, Love appeared dazed while playing defense in the third quarter and removed himself. He walked under his own power to Cleveland's locker room for more tests and observation. He did not return, finishing with 5 points on 2 of 7 shooting with three rebounds in 21 minutes.
While it seemed the sight of Love clutching his head and writing in discomfort would be enough to keep him sidelined, he was allowed to play again. Following the game, the Cavs explained the process that led to his return, releasing statement to say Love ''did not exhibit any signs or symptoms during the first half, or at halftime, that would have caused him to be placed in the concussion protocol prior to the third quarter.''
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said he wasn't aware how badly Love was injured.
''I didn't even know what happened, but at halftime he showed no symptoms,'' Lue said. ''He didn't talk about it. Then when we came back out in the third quarter, I could see in a timeout he looked kind of woozy.''
If Love can't play, Lue has several options. He could go with a bigger starting lineup and play center Timofey Mozgov, moving Tristan Thompson to power forward alongside LeBron James. He could also stay with a smaller starting group and play Channing Frye, who has played sparingly so far in the series, in Love's spot.