Brave faces can’t mask Cavs’ disappointment on losing Love

LeBron James and the rest of Kevin Love's Cavalier teammates are all dealing with losing the All-Star forward for 6-8 weeks.

Remember the days of The Big Three, Cavalier fans?

LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, all on the same team, leading the Cavaliers to Cleveland’s first championship in 52 years via winning the NBA title in 2016.

LeBron is still, well, LeBron. Enough said.

Irving, the noted earth scientist, is now the flagbearer for the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Celtics.

And Love has a broken left hand.

Ouch, and ouch.

While the Cavaliers lost a game Tuesday night in Detroit, bowing as Sam Amico so astutely pointed out, to Pistons Lite, the much bigger story from Little Caesars Arena was Love being injured five minutes into the game.

The status of the All-Star forward will be updated by the Cavaliers on Wednesday, but preliminary reports have him missing 6-to-8 weeks.

The Cavaliers put their brave faces on while meeting with reporters after the game, but their disappointment was written all over their faces.

“Down. Down,” Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said, in reference to Love’s emotions at halftime, when the rest of the team received word on Love’s diagnosis. “It’s just part of the game. You hate to see anyone get injured at any point in time of the season and now we’ve got to rally the troops and we’ve got to have his back until he gets back.”

The players offered similar refrains in reaction to the loss of Love.

“It’s a huge blow for our team, obviously,” LeBron James said. “Anytime you lose an All-Star or you lose anybody, part of your crew, it’s a tough blow. We’re already limited in our bigs, anyway. We’ll be getting a lot smaller now.

“At the end of the day, we hope for a speedy recovery for Kev and he can get back on the floor as soon as he can. But it’s a tough blow for us.”

One of only two other members of the Cavaliers (the other being Derrick Rose) to play in an All-Star Game, Isaiah Thomas, admitted Love’s injury impacts everyone, from top to bottom.

“I mean it hurt,” Thomas said. “He’s a big part of this organization. Anybody going down is going to hurt. To know that it was something serious is, I didn’t know what happened. I thought he was on his way back, but, when we came in here and they told us.”

Thomas, an AAU teammate of Love when they were youngsters, just recently returned from a seven-month rehabilitation on a torn labrum in his right hip, so he knows all too well the effect an injury can have on a player’s psyche.

“Was like, man, just wanted to make sure he was alright mentally and, I mean, we just gotta keep pushing,” he said. “It’s gonna be tough, but we gotta figure it out and there’s no excuses.”

Jae Crowder, who started at power forward for much of the season for the Cavaliers at power forward while Love played center, could once again find himself in that role.

“We’ve definitely got enough to weather the storm in his absence,” he said. “It’s just a matter of us doing it, doing it collectively and doing it on a nightly basis.”

Another guy who will almost assuredly be asked the shoulder more responsibilities is Channing Frye.

“You just chew on it for a little bit and you say, ‘OK, things happen,”’ he said. “It’s a hand, it’s not a knee, it’s not a foot and it’s his off-hand. I mean, it could be worse. Isaiah Thomas used to always tell me, ‘It could be a lot worse.’

“Right now, he’s in good spirits, he’s going to be good. He’ll be nice and rested for the All-Star break.”

Lue said the Cavaliers will have to come together if they are to succeed while Love is on the mend.

“Guys have to step up and be ready to play,” he said. “Everyone has to play better. I have to coach better. Everyone has to be better. Especially when you lose a significant piece like that.

“I’m sure the guys will be up for the challenge. It’s going to be a tough task but we can handle it.”

Of course, the elephant in the room is, will general manager Koby Altman provide some reinforcements before the NBA trade deadline, which is Feb. 8?

“I can’t speak to that,” Lue said. “I just coach the guys we have. We’ve got a great group. We know we have to be better defensively for one.

“We gave up three, 30-point quarters to this team that can’t really score the ball that well, have guys out that’s been traded. We just have to be better.”