As the Eastern Conference Finals head back to Cleveland all square, the Cavaliers will hope Kevin Love rediscovers his shooting touch.
Love was solid in the opening two games of the series (9-for-16) but appeared to have left his jumpshot at the border, shooting 1-for-9 from the field in game three and 4-for-14 in game four. The vast majority of his attempts, particularly those from behind the arc, were wide open.
To make matters worse, Love landed awkwardly in the second half of game four and limped off with a knee injury, and Cleveland head coach Ty Lue chose not to bring Love back down the stretch after the Cavaliers second unit rallied to turn a 16-point half-time deficit into a three-point lead early in the fourth quarter.
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“I had a lot of great shots but just didn’t knock them down," Love said, with big bags of ice taped around both knees. "It’s as simple as that. I have a lot of confidence in shooting the ball and I had a lot of really great wide open threes especially at the start of the first quarter.
"I just need to continue to stay aggressive and I don’t I’ve been to the foul line enough so that’s something I just need to keep telling myself. We’ve got to get better. We’ve got to play both sides of the ball better and look at film.”
In terms of the injury, Love confirmed it was a simple accident. “Kyrie was shooting a shot towards the end of the third quarter and I stepped on the official’s foot," he added. "I’ll be fine. It’ll probably be sore tomorrow."
With Love struggling, Channing Frye came off the bench to hit four triples and Lue opted to ride the hot hand down the stretch.
And the Cleveland head coach suggested that throwing Love back into the tense crunch-time action would have been a challenge.
“There’s no concern [with Love’s shooting],” Lue said. “I thought Channing came in and gave us a great lift when we were down and trying to put Kevin back in the fourth quarter in a hostile building and hostile environment is not fair to him.”
"I wasn't sure [if I'd come back in]," Love explained. "I had the heat patch on and I was trying to get my legs going in case my number was called, but that was about it."
LeBron James (29 points) and Kyrie Irving (26 points) led the way for the Cavaliers, but they came up just short in the 105-99 game four loss. With game five ahead in the early hours of Thursday morning, the Cavaliers will be crossing their fingers that a return to the Quicken Loans Arena puts Love back on track.