It’s been two games — and two Cleveland Cavaliers losses — since forward Kevin Love has played in the 4th quarter. Love sat out the 4th quarters of both Games 3 and 4 as the Cavs twice failed to rise to the occasion in Toronto. In Game 4 Love hurt his foot, but Coach Tyronn Lue said afterwards that Love’s injury wasn’t the reason for holding him out. Instead, Lue wanted to give more playing time to Channing Frye.
For LeBron James, who has said that this year the Cavaliers offense would run through Love, his absence in critical moments must feel like deja vu — last year James had to carry Cleveland in the Finals without Love or Kyrie Irving. Lue gave this explanation for not putting the 3-time NBA All-Star Love back into the game: “Like last game, to just try to put Kevin back in with four minutes to go in the fourth quarter in a hostile game, hostile environment, it’s not fair to him.” Lue clearly believes Love can’t quickly find his flow after sitting out for a spell. Or at least that Love would have a difficult time contributing late in a tough game. Love was 5-of-23 in Games 3 and 4. He’s expected to get more minutes — and more shots — in Game 5.