Cavs use Love's absence as motivation in NBA Finals

Thu Jun 9, 2016 4:26pm EDT
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By Frank Pingue

CLEVELAND (Reuters) - Kevin Love missed Game Three of the NBA Finals with a concussion but he still had a major impact in the Cleveland Cavaliers' critical victory as his team mates used his injury as a source of inspiration.

Love was placed in the league's concussion protocol during Game Two of the NBA Finals after an accidental elbow from Golden State Warriors forward Harrison Barnes, and his injury was viewed by some as a death knell for the Cavaliers' title hopes.

But rather than fret the absence of their starting forward, a three-time All-Star who was averaging 16.5 points and 9.4 rebounds per game in the playoffs, Cleveland rallied around Love in a season-saving Game Three rout on Wednesday.

"Before we left the locker room, I know Kyrie (Irving) embraced him, I did as well. Told him, don't worry about it. We've got him tonight," Cleveland's LeBron James told reporters after practice on Thursday.

"This is what a team is all about, for them to pick their brother up in a time of need, and him not to put too much pressure on himself or the team, and that we're going to try to take care of business, which we were able to do.

"So I know it was uplifting to him, for sure, and it was for

our team as well."

Without Love in the lineup, Cleveland stormed back into the NBA Finals with a 120-90, wire-to-wire win over the top-seeded defending champion Warriors to cut the best-of-seven series deficit to 2-1.   Continued...

June 2, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) moves the ball against Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) during the first half in game one of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports