CLEVELAND -- In the eyes of his teammates and coaches, Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love put on an inspiring performance in a 117-111 Game 2 win over the Indiana Pacers in the opening round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena Monday night.
Whether it was strong offensive play in the first and third quarters or a consistent willingness to sacrifice his body in an attempt to take charges and gain extra possessions for the Cavaliers.
“When he was able to take a charge and we were able to get the call, it’s huge because you see your brother sacrificing his body,” Cavaliers small forward LeBron James said. “No matter if it’s on Paul George or (Kevin) Seraphin or whatever the case may be, he’s putting his body (on the line) for our team, so it’s a big play.”
Although Love was credited with taking only one charge and picked up two blocking fouls in the Game 2 win, which gave the Cavaliers a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, the willingness to sacrifice himself for the good of the team was an integral part of the winning effort.
“Playoff basketball is about making winning plays and giving your body up,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “All night long, he stood in there and tried to take charges. I thought all of them could have went either way, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Although Love put together a good defensive effort, it was far from the only contribution he gave to the Cavaliers in the win.
Love led the way with 10 points and seven rebounds in the first quarter. He was perfect shooting the ball, knocking down all three of his shots from the field, including a pair of triples, and both of his free-throw attempts late in the period.
While point guard Kyrie Irving hit the final shot of the third quarter, the Cavaliers made a concerted effort to reestablish Love in the low post, and that plan worked well, as he scored 10 points and drew a handful of Indiana fouls on both ends of the floor.
Love hit a pair of shots and all six of his free-throw attempts over a two-minute stretch that helped the Cavaliers balloon the lead to 19, 89-70.
“It was awesome,” reserve forward Channing Frye said. “It’s awesome when he gets aggressive, man. I know when Kevin’s like that, we’re pretty tough to beat, and so, we just have to make sure that he knows how good he is sometimes.”
Love ended the game with 27 points and 11 rebounds. Additionally, he went six of seven from the field, including three of four from beyond the three-point arc, and 12 of 12 at the free-throw line.
“When Kevin, Kyrie and LeBron are playing like that, we’re pretty tough to beat,” Frye said. “Us other guys are expendable, so we’ve got to make sure we’re making shots and being aggressive. I think we sort of did that, but we can do better.”
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