Kevin Love is not a bad player.
I promise. He’s not.
In fact, he’s a very good player.
The Warriors just play a style that exposes his biggest weaknesses. Unfortunately for Love, the Cavaliers have played Golden State in the last two NBA Finals – when the most eyes are watching.
Love got a reprieve in Game 5 with Draymond Green suspended. Green is fundamental to the identity – Stephen Curry‘s comfort and Golden State’s ability to protect the rim while playing small – that gives Love so much trouble. Without Green, the Warriors were not nearly the same stylistic threat to Love, who started in Cleveland’s Game 5 win.
So, what happens when Green returns in Game 6?
Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com:
Even without Green, Love played poorly last night. He scored two points on 1-of-5 shooting and grabbed three rebounds in 33 minutes. Still, the Cavs were +18 him on the court.
Jefferson started the Cavs’ 30-point Game 3 win and their closest loss (Game 4). Love started blowout losses in Games 1 and 2 and a Game 5 win. But, again, Love didn’t face Green in Game 5.
The Cavaliers starters fared well last night despite Love’s individual shortcomings. The unit outscored Golden State by 10 in 18 minutes, which seems nice, except… Cleveland’s other starters with Jefferson instead of Love? +4 in one minute.
So many signs point to the Cavs being better in this matchup with Jefferson starting. Those likely only get amplified in Game 6 with Green on the court.
I’d start Jefferson and find minutes for Love off the bench.