Lost in the commotion of Kevin Love's injury and subsequent surgery is the effect it would have on Cavaliers players emotionally. You can worry about matchups and Love's impending free agency, or even if the injury will affect his play next season, but that misses the human element. We've debated all season what type of teammate Kevin Love is and whether or not he was fitting in or not. I think we've learned a bit about that in the last 10 days.
First, of course, is the way the Cavs responded after Love was injured. Kendrick Perkins came in set a hard foul on Jae Crowder. Crowder isn't the one who hurt Love, of course, but he had spent much of the short series talking. A short while later, J.R. Smith hit Crowder in the face while they battled for rebounding positioning. Second, we can watch how certain players reacted to the news that Love would not be coming back this season.
Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com is as in-tune as anyone when it comes to the mood and players in the Cavs locker room. I've seen him put in the work. I'm just now coming across his piece from a few days ago on how Kyrie Irving felt about the loss of Love:
No one on the Cavaliers' roster is as close to Kevin Love as Kyrie Irving. The two clicked from the start.
Their relationship materialized and flourished in Brazil during training camp and they've been tight ever since. That's why it's extremely difficult for Irving to cope with the reality that his "brother" is done for the season after he underwent surgery on his left shoulder.
"I'm hurting right now," Irving said. "I'm doing everything to just process it, but I have to move on."
"It's just more of a devastation for us as a team," Irving said. "We've been building something for so long and internally we've done a great job of keeping everything in house and taking care of each other. And when one of your brothers goes down, there's a piece of us that went with him."
Instead of enjoying the process of an extended break and extra preparation time before their second round matchup, the Cavaliers are instead dealing with heartbreaking losses. The sweep of Boston didn't have the same vibe and feeling of a sweep.
I must admit that the easiest way I've been able to handle Love's injury has been the notion that it's "freeing", insofar as the expectations of title-or-bust are now gone. Sit back, enjoy the team without those expectations. But for the Cavalier players, that's no consolation. They want the expectations, but they also want their teammate healthy. Kyrie will ultimately be fine. We will see if the Cavs are this week