Kevin Love’s Injury Could be Costly As Cavaliers Sweep out Celtics

The best and worst shots of the NBA playoffs, at least so far:

1. We’re only nine days in, but already the worst shot had to be what Kevin Love absorbed at the hands of the Celtics’ Kelly Olynyk, as Cleveland finished its sweep of outmanned Boston on Sunday.

Call it a royal cheap shot, as Love suffered a dislocated left shoulder, pending further exams Monday in Cleveland.

Love and Olynyk were vying for a loose ball in the first quarter when the “Boston Mangler” went to work, taking a good, hard yank on Love’s arm. Love ran off the court and directly to the locker room.

“I thought it was a bush-league play,’’ Love told reporters, with his arm in a sling after the game. “I have no doubt in my mind that he did it on purpose. That’s just not a basketball play. … The league will take a look at it and it better be swift and just.”

Or else what? He’ll sue? But it’s easy to see why he was furious with Olynyk, as Love was coming off his best game since arriving in Cleveland. If it’s a serious injury that means he’ll miss games in Round 2, when the Cavs should be matched up against the Chicago Bulls, then Cleveland’s ride to the Finals could be derailed.

LeBron James has been lukewarm on Love this entire season. When Love iced the Cavs’ Game 3 win in Boston with a corner triple, James exchanged high-fives with … Kyrie Irving and not the guy who made the biggest shot of the night. So here, with Love hurt, LeBron had a chance to stand firm with his fallen teammate. But the best he could offer was, “I’ve seen a lot of tie-ups in my day, but that one looked different.”

And people wonder why Love might want to leave Cleveland this summer.

The Cavs didn’t even need Love to finish off this series. They had too much talent in the persons of James and Kyrie Irving. Meanwhile, the media went way overboard in praising the Celtics for their competitive spirit. Really, this how we’re now judging the Celtics, the NBA’s most storied franchise? By the way, all of that competitive spirit really helped when they were losing 30 of 43 games against teams with winning records, counting the Cavs in this first-round burial. The Celtics used to be all about their league-high 17 championship banners and 21 retired numbers, and rubbing all of that ceiling linen in everyone’s faces.


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2. The best shot in the first week of the playoffs had to be Stephen Curry’s miracle three-pointer at the end of regulation in the Warriors’ Game 3 astounding comeback win in New Orleans.

When the Warriors’ sweep was over on Saturday, all Pelicans coach Monty Williams could do was heap a load of praise on Curry, who averaged 34 ppg in the series and put his name in the franchise record books alongside two immortals, Wilt Chamberlain and Rick Barry.

“What we’ve been through playing against Steph — sometimes it’s not fair,” Williams said. “Steph is on a different level – some of the shots he makes, his command of the ball, his ability to finish. The moment doesn’t bother him. He is in the elite of the elite right now, and he’s after something and you can tell by the way he’s playing.’’


Curry’s brilliant all-around play overshadowed the dramatic playoff debut of the next big thing, Anthony Davis, who unfortunately had a big hand in his team’s Game 3 collapse. Right before Curry’s three, Davis missed a foul shot with a chance to increase the Pel’s lead to four. He also failed to keep the Warriors off their offensive glass when the Pels blew a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter, with Golden State getting 10 offensive boards to fuel their rally. Otherwise, he was more than a handful, with Warriors coach Steve Kerr telling him afterward on the court, “’I’m really glad we don’t have to go against you anymore.’’


3. The next best shot to Curry’s triple had to be the one that didn’t even count. Did you catch LeBron James’ fullcourt heave after practice on Saturday in Boston’s TD Garden? The thing went viral, of course.

4.  The Clippers took a shot to the head – self-inflicted, of course because that’s the Clipper way – when they blew Game 2 at home to the Spurs. Blake Griffin’s unforced turnover in the final 11 seconds of regulation, with the Clippers trying to add to their two-point lead, led to one of the worst collapses in team history, as they fell in OT.

That’s the kind of blow not many teams recover from, because now they’re looking at having to win an additional game in the best-of-seven series. Against the defending champs, no less.

Sure enough, the Clips went out in Game 3 and suffered their worst playoff loss ever, by 27 points, with Chris Paul having more turnovers than assists in a game for the first time this season and scoring only seven points. One of the NBA’s top offenses, they scored all of 73 points. But along with Griffin’s strong play, Paul rebounded with a sterling performance Sunday. Paul scored 10 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter when he played the last eight-plus minutes with five fouls to hold off a Spurs rally in a 114-105 L.A. win. That tied the series at 2-2 and helped the Clips regain the homecourt advantage.

5. In a real shot to the head that could have a lasting impact to Memphis, the Grizzlies lost their starting point guard, Mike Conley Jr., indefinitely after he suffered multiple facial fractures against the Blazers in their Game 3 win on Saturday night

in Portland. He will undergo surgery on Monday and nobody is saying how long he’ll be out for. The Grizzlies are one win from sweeping Portland, but without the player who makes them go, they won’t stand a chance once they move on to the second round against the Warriors.

Asked how concerned he is by Conley’s loss, Memphis coach Dave Joerger had the only possible response for this time of the season: “Very.’’





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