Kevin Love only played 10 minutes Friday night, but the veteran Cavaliers forward told Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com it was a huge relief just to be back on the court. Love missed more than two months with a calf injury that resulted from being kicked in the back of the leg during a preseason game. He’s on a minutes restriction, with coach J.B. Bickerstaff and team doctors deciding to limit him to five minutes in each half for his first game.
“I don’t want to speak hyperbole or take it over the top, but this is probably the most mentally taxing — not the most physically taxing injury — but the most mentally taxing for me for sure,” Love said. “It was really a struggle ‘cause it’s who I am. I’m a basketball player first and foremost and I’ve loved this game for so long. Just playing basketball, that’s what I love to do. It’s so much a part of me. When you have it taken away from you and you feel like there’s not much you can do after working so damn hard, that can be really disheartening and a tough hurdle to overcome.”
Love reaggravated the injury in a December 27 game and didn’t receive clearance to resume basketball-related activities until early February. He was able to practice with the team on February 18, but pain following that session delayed his return even further. The Cavaliers opted to rest him through the All-Star break to give him more time to recover.
“Now I’m just hoping these next couple weeks I’ll get the wind underneath me, I’ll get to start feeling like myself again and I won’t be as sore,” Love said. “A lot of that calf pain has subsided, so I’m hoping a lot more of my lift will come back in the meantime.”
There’s more on the Cavs:
- Cleveland also welcomed back Larry Nance Jr., who missed 12 games after having surgery on his left hand, writes Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. Nance was among the league leaders in steals and deflections before the injury. “I know Larry has been wanting to play for some weeks now,” said Collin Sexton. “… And he said he was a little bit winded out there running down the court the first five times, but it’s definitely good to have him out there.”
- Reports that Quinn Cook was signing a 10-day contract surfaced Wednesday night, but the Cavaliers delayed the move until Friday so they could get maximum value out of the deal, Fedor states in a separate piece. Cook, who scored 13 points in 17 minutes in his debut, will be with Cleveland for six games during that 10-day stretch.
- Darius Garland, who suffered a groin strain in the final game of the first half, wasn’t ready to return Friday as Cleveland kicked off the second half of its season, Fedor notes in another story.