Preview: Wolves vs. Cavaliers
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Kevin Love will have to wait until next year to face off against his former team.
The Cleveland Cavaliers forward has been ruled out for Tuesday night’s game at Minnesota because of a left knee injury. Love played in Cleveland’s last game on Saturday in Denver but will be sidelined when the Cavaliers face off against a Timberwolves team that Love began his NBA career with.
Love also did not see the court against Minnesota when the Timberwolves visited Cleveland on Feb. 1, but that was because of back spasms. His timeline for a return from the knee injury remains in question.
“I would love to be able to tell you that he’ll miss three games and be back,” general manager David Griffin told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “But I can’t right now because we don’t know.”
Cleveland might also be without guard Iman Shumpert, who has missed three straight games with an ankle injury. Without Love the last time out against Minnesota, though, the Cavaliers had no problem sealing a convincing 125-97 win.
Minnesota isn’t without its ailments. Guard Zach LaVine is out of the rest of the season after tearing his ACL, and forward Adreian Payne is sidelined indefinitely because of illness. The Timberwolves saw a Bulls team that was even more short-staffed on Sunday as Minnesota cruised to a 117-89 win over coach Tom Thibodeau’s former employer.
“That’s the NBA. Guys are going to be hurt or not play some games,” Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins said. “You have to treat every game like every other game. Don’t switch nothing up, stay consistent.”
Wiggins was the cornerstone of the trade that sent Love from Minnesota to Cleveland before the start of the 2014-15 season. The Cavaliers drafted Wiggins before dealing him to the Timberwolves in part of a three-team trade.
After winning the Rookie of the Year that season, Wiggins averaged 20.7 points per game during his second year with Minnesota. His numbers have been even more impressive in his third year in the league. Entering Tuesday, he is averaging 22.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.
With a 27-point effort against Chicago on Sunday, Wiggins has now scored 20 or more points in 13 straight games. That’s the longest streak by a Timberwolves player since, ironically enough, Love in 2014.
Wiggins needs three more 20-point games in a row to tie Kevin Garnett’s franchise mark for the longest streak. He scored 23 points the first time out against Cleveland, which was the seventh 20-point game of his current stretch.
“Whoever’s guarding me, you’ve got to find an advantage,” Wiggins said of his mentality on offense. “You’ve got to find their weakness and go at them that way.”
Wiggins won’t get to square off against the marquee player he was traded for. Instead, Cleveland will start Channing Frye in place of Love.
Though the Cavaliers have a chance to enter the All-Star break with the best record in the Eastern Conference, head coach Tyronn Lue knows his team needs to get healthy to remain the team to beat in the East.
“Always concerned when guys are going down,” Lue told the Cleveland Plain Dealer about Love. “And we’re already limited as it is. Definitely concerned, but gotta see how he feels. Just get evaluated tomorrow and see how he feels.”