INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star forward Kevin Love was back on the practice court taking mid-range jump shots Friday, four weeks after fracturing a bone in his left hand.
He is optimistic that he will return to game action before the team’s stated eight-week recovery timeline expires.
“If I can get back before eight weeks, great,” Love said Friday. “I’m hoping that is the case.”
Love has missed 12 games since breaking his hand Jan. 30 against the Detroit Pistons. During that time, Cleveland completely overhauled its roster by dealing away six players and bringing in four more at the trade deadline.
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The Cavaliers have 21 games remaining in the regular season. Should Love beat his recovery timeline by two weeks, he could still have 13-14 games to try to get acclimated with the Cavs’ new personnel before the playoffs begin.
He was confident that he’ll have enough time to get up to speed. The Cavs, after Thursday’s 108-97 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, dropped to 2-3 since the All-Star break.
Without Love’s consistency as a No. 2 option who is averaging 17.9 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, the egalitarian Cavs have struggled with organizing themselves on offense and picking up the new plays.
By parsing down the playbook for the time being, Cleveland hopes to rediscover the freewheeling style of play that led to a 2-0 record in the first two games they played with their new players.
“We were getting to the other side of the floor, we were penetrating on kickouts and playing with great pace. And I know that’s all easy stuff to say, but we were just going out there and playing basketball,” Love said. “So I think if we get back to that, it will only help us, especially with all the new plays we’ve put in for these guys.”
For now, Love is a spectator during games. He wears a splint on his left hand on the bench in case a player careens off the court and causes a collision, but he is able wear a softer, MMA-style glove while he practices.
“I was able to start shooting a little bit with my right hand, dribble a little bit with my right hand [and] will progressively get to my left,” Love said. “I guess one of the things I can do now is kind of catch the ball, guide it and shoot it within 12-15 feet, so that feels good to do something other than run on the treadmill or run on the bike.”
Love is one of four remaining members of the Cavs’ 2016 championship team, along with LeBron James, JR Smith and Tristan Thompson. He believes that core gives the new-look Cavs enough experience to put things together quickly for a deep postseason run.
“Between ‘Bron and myself, JR and Tristan, we have guys who have been here and know exactly what to expect moving forward,” Love said. “So it’s on us to bring everybody along and have veteran guys push maybe the younger guys or the new guys through the process.
“Having some new blood and some new faces in some ways can be a good thing because they’re going to be very hungry and want to get on that quick learning curve to make it so we have a big run.”