The Cleveland Cavaliers have had a very rough season — they're the third worst team in the NBA. But recently, they have garnered a few wins. WKSU sports commentator Terry Pluto explained what changed and how it bodes well for the future.
After former Cavs player LeBron James left for the L.A. Lakers in July, the team had one veteran who the players could lean on: forward Kevin Love.
“The games we’ve seen lately ... it's like when he’s on the floor, they outscore the opponents by 12 points, 10 points," Pluto says. "It just goes to show that even though Kevin love isn’t a top 20 player — he’s more like a top 50 player — how much of a difference (he) makes."
The risk, worth the reward?
Love signed a four-year, $120 million contract with the Cavs around the same time James left. He started out the season strong, averaging 19 points and 13.5 rebounds per game. But just four games into the season, Love injured his toe and had to get surgery in November.
"This is why the Cavs were criticized for giving Kevin Love the contract extension. To me, the only risk in there is that he could get hurt, because he does get hurt," Pluto says. "But (the Cavs) idea being when you have a bunch of kids running around by themselves, there's no good real veterans holding them together."
A key to the future
Love recently returned to the team after missing 50 games. They've been 3-1 since he's been back, including Love's 32-point performance last weekend against Memphis, despite playing limited playing time. Pluto says Love is a key component to the team's success.
Pluto says Love's chemistry with point guard Collin Sexton is what really sets the motivating factor on the floor. The team drafted Sexton from Alabama with the 8th pick. Sexton is averaging 20 points a game, and Pluto says if Love makes a full recovery combined with Sexton's average, the team can only get better.
"Now since they've been able to get Love back and they've made some trades and have brought on some new guys, they're an OK team," Pluto says.
Although the Cavs might seem to be on the uphill toward more wins in the future with Love and a few younger players, Pluto says it's not about how many wins they get by the end of the season; it's about how well they'll play from here on out.
“Whether they are winning or losing, I want them to play well because you start to get the habits the right way," Pluto says.
Pluto says there's still a possibility Love could be traded this summer because of future injury concerns, the Cavs need him to start playing what he calls "reasonable basketball."