The Cleveland Cavaliers went 7-6 during Kevin Love’s absence. The Cavs missed his 20 points a game, sure. But what the Cavs really missed was the other half of Love’s double-double equation — Love is their best rebounder, averaging 11.1 boards a game. While Love was gone, the Cavaliers were routinely beaten on the boards, despite Tristan Thompson’s best efforts. Now that Love has rebounded physically it helps the Cavs rebound literally — a 2-way rebound Love gives the Cavs. Love grabbed nine rebounds in just 19 minutes in his first game back, a Cavs win against the Jazz.
Love returned earlier than expected after knee surgery, though his full return will be phased in — limited minutes and no back-to-backs. Love joins the recently returned J.R. Smith who is also being phased in gradually after a broken thumb. Midseason acquisition Kyle Korver, seemingly a perfect puzzle piece for Cleveland with his outstanding shooting, hasn’t been healthy either since joining the Cavs. A nagging foot soreness plagues Korver, anathema to a catch-and-shoot guy. But the Cavs took him out of uniform so as not to continually aggravate it and he’s expected back soon, fully healed. It’s all good news for LeBron James, who has been shouldering a huge load to keep the Cavs atop the Eastern Conference. James is playing a lot of minutes, second in the NBA. The reconstituted roster should allow him to cut back to prepare for the playoffs.