With Cleveland forward Kevin Love ruled out of Sunday’s Game 7 against the Boston Celtics, the Cavaliers will start Jeff Green in his place, coach Tyronn Lue announced Sunday morning.
Love has been placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol, but traveled with the team to Boston and is expected to attend the game.
For Green, at stake is a chance to play in the NBA Finals for the first time in his 10-year career.
“It’s a chance to go to the Finals. I’m prepared. So, it will be fun,” he told reporters after Sunday’s shootaround.
Green performed well in replacing Love in Game 6, finishing with 14 points, three rebounds and two blocks off the bench. The Cavaliers will need all they can get as they face elimination in Boston, where the Celtics are 10-0 this postseason.
Green, 31, averaged 10.8 points this season, starting 14 of the 78 regular-season games he appeared in. He’s averaged 7.6 points in the postseason.
Lue says Green gives the team a different look defensively.
“He attacked the small guys, the switches, and took his time, did a good job attacking, rebounded the ball well,” Lue told reporters. “I just think defensively being able to switch and guard multiple positions, that’s huge for us. He was able to switch a lot more, we were able to do a lot of different stuff defensively and he came through for us.”
Love was re-evaluated Saturday before the decision to hold him out of the deciding game of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Love exited Game 6 on Friday night following a head-to-head collision with Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum during the first quarter. The Cavs announced at halftime that Love would not return as a precaution as he was being evaluated for a concussion.
With 6:58 remaining in the first quarter, Tatum accidentally ran into Love while he was trying to get positioning as the Cavaliers controlled the ball. Love immediately fell to the court with his hands to his head as time was called.
Cavs point guard George Hill helped Love to the bench before the 29-year-old went to the locker room for evaluation.
Cleveland went on to win 109-99 to even the series at three games apiece.
Love entered Friday averaging 14.8 points and 10.4 rebounds in this year’s playoffs. He has a history of concussions, including one during the 2016 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, which caused him to miss Game 3 of the series.
—Field Level Media