Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love plays 25 minutes in first game back from hand injury
For the first time since January, LeBron James has an All-Star teammate again.
Kevin Love, who was inactive since Jan. 31 after suffering a broken hand, made his return to the Cavs’ starting lineup and played 25 minutes in their 124-117 victory over Milwaukee on Monday night. The five-time All-Star finished with 18 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two blocks while shooting 4-for-9 from 3-point range.
The Cavs were 30-20, third place in the Eastern Conference, when Love went down. They went just 10-9 in his absence, but despite that have maintained their standing in the East. That span included Cleveland’s roster-shaking trade deadline day, which saw six players shipped out and four new ones arrive.
One of their most productive newcomers, Larry Nance Jr., sat out his third straight game due to a strained hamstring. The team suffered their latest blow earlier on Monday, when coach Tyronn Lue announced he would be stepping away from the team for at least one week to address personal health issues.
Love, however, contributed immediately for a Cavs team that hopes to contend for its fourth consecutive Eastern Conference crown. Cleveland trails second-place Boston by six games. If the Cavs finish third place or worse (three teams are 1.5 games behind or less), it would be the lowest conference finish by a James-led team since 2007-08, when Cleveland entered the postseason as a fourth seed.