The Cleveland Cavaliers completed a first-round sweep of the Boston Celtics with a 101-93 Game 4 victory Sunday, but it proved costly with power forward Kevin Love sustaining a dislocated shoulder.
Love was injured in the first quarter after getting tangled with Celtics center Kelly Olynyk on a loose ball play. He left the game and would not return, and according to ESPN the seven-year veteran could miss at least two weeks.
Nothing will be known for sure until MRI but word within Cavs team tonight is Kevin Love likely out a minimum of 2 weeks.
â€” Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) April 27, 2015
Love accused Olynyk of intentionally trying to hurt him on the play.
"I thought it was a bush-league play," Love said to reporters after the game. "Olynyk was in a compromising position, had no chance to get the ball, and it's just too bad that he would go to those lengths to take somebody out of the game and do that to someone. I have no doubt in my mind that he did that on purpose."
Olynyk denied Love’s accusation and gave his interpretation of the play to the Boston Herald. He also said he tried to contact Love.
"That’s ridiculous,” Olynyk said “I would never intentionally hurt Kevin or anyone else. He locked my arm up, I locked up his as we were fighting for a loose ball. You lock up arms all the time in this league.”
The Cavs will have some time off, but it’s unclear how much. Cleveland is still waiting for their second-round opponent, which will either be the No. 3 Chicago Bulls or the No. 6 Milwaukee Bucks, with the Bulls leading the series, 3-1. Chicago missed its opportunity to sweep after falling to the Bucks 92-90 in Game 4 of their series Saturday.
Love has struggled to adapt to his slightly diminished role on the Cavs this season, but he’s still integral to the squad’s championship aspirations and any time he spends on the bench significantly hinders Cleveland’s chances of advancing any further in the postseason.
Love averaged 16.4 points and 9.7 rebounds in 75 regular season games during his first season in Cleveland, but improved his scoring numbers in his first appearance in the playoffs with 18.3 points during the Boston series while shooting a lethal 47.4 percent from three-point range.
Even if Love can come back after two weeks, he could still miss the entire second round.
Cleveland head coach David Blatt does have options on is bench to fill in for Love, but none can provide the same scoring punch as the three-time All-Star. Furthermore shooting guard J.R. Smith and center Kendrick Perkins likely face suspensions for flagrant fouls they committed against Celtics forward Jae Crowder in Game 4, leaving the Cavs bench a little thin as they turn to the second round.
Fourth-year forward Tristan Thompson averaged 8.5 points on 54.7 percent shooting with 8.0 rebounds a game during the regular season, but he doesn’t possess the same offensive skill set as Love and can’t draw defenders out of the paint to allow LeBron James and Kyrie Irving to drive to the basket.
There’s also veterans like Shawn Marion and Perkins, but while both can make contributions on the defensive end, it’s unlikely the Cavs will ask them to score much. Perkins could face a suspension from the league after throwing Crowder to the floor during the second quarter.
The Cavs figure to miss shooting guard Smith for at least one game in the second-round after the former Knick also swiped at Crowder and was ejected from the game.