CLEVELAND — Don’t fix what ain’t broke.
Cleveland’s defense was dramatically better in Game 3 with Richard Jefferson starting in place of the concussed Kevin Love. Now Love is cleared to play in Game 4, but he will come off the bench and Jefferson will stay in the starting lineup.
This is the first time Love has come off the bench since his days in Minnesota.
Love played better defense in Games 1 and 2 than he got credit for, but he is slow of foot on the perimeter, and it limits the cross matching that the Cavaliers can do. Jefferson is more versatile: He, LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and J.R. Smith can switch or pick up other players in transition and not miss a beat. It doesn’t work that way with Love.
That said, getting Love in when LeBron rests can provide an offensive boost and someone who can score in the post or from three to boost the bench (the Cavs bench had zero points through three quarters in Game 3, it was all the starters).
Steve Kerr is sticking with his regular starting five, with Andrew Bogut at center. We will see how long that lasts, the Cavs smaller lineup torched the Warriors starters last game and Kerr can’t let that happen again. Expect him to go small with the “death lineup” — meaning Draymond Green at center — early.