The only thing that appears to be standing between the Cleveland Cavaliers and a return to the NBA Finals is health. (It’s not the rest of the Eastern Conference.)
On that front, the latest report is good news for Cavs fans — Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, Timofey Mozgov, and Anderson Varejao are all going to be participating at the start of training camp, reports Chris Haynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Although, you’ll have to use a broad definition of participating — the two big stars will be limited, he adds.
Irving (fractured knee cap) and Love (separated shoulder) will be active during camp, but on a limited basis. The Cavaliers will work the two in slowly and cautiously. The anticipation is that Love will be fully cleared with no limitations before Irving is given the green light, I’m told.
Love said on the “Late Night with Seth Meyers” talk show Sept. 11 that he was “a month and a half away” from returning.
Love is expected to be cleared and ready to go full speed around the start of the season.
Irving will be longer and is expected to miss opening night, although the reports of a January return were just someone trying to control the spin. (Say he’s out until January and he returns in early December and it looks like he beat the timetable.) I’ve heard to expect his return somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Mozgov had his knee scoped, while Varejao is coming back off a torn Achilles tendon. Both are expected to have no restrictions on them when camp opens.
All of that should not be a problem for the Cavaliers and not hurt their standing in the Eastern Conferernce. They have a full season to get healthy, integrate everyone into the offense, and hone their defensive rotations. Their success this season will be judged only on a return to the Finals, and maybe winning it. And they need to get healthy to have a shot at it.