Brad Stevens knows what he can and can’t control.
How Kevin Love responds to concussion protocol is one of those in the latter category. Despite the Cavaliers announcing Saturday afternoon that Love is out for Game 7 and in concussion protocol, Stevens says his team has to be prepared no matter the personnel on the other side.
If Love is indeed out for Game 7, it means that the Celtics will see much more of Jeff Green, Larry Nance and perhaps even Jordan Clarkson.
“I think, first of all, I’ve seen it reported both ways, that that’ll still be decided and then he’s out, but regardless, we’ll have to prepare our team to play well regardless of who’s on the floor for them,” Stevens said in Saturday’s conference call. “That changes how they — some of the things they run offensively.
“Obviously they have a package of Love plays that they go to on offense, so if they end up doing more stuff with LeBron, I thought [George] Hill and [Jordan] Clarkson were good off pick-and-rolls last night, I thought that Jeff Green was really good, and I thought that they continued to have all of the different little wrinkles for [Kyle] Korver and [JR] Smith coming off the screens.
“You know, you just — obviously they run a little bit less of the Love stuff and more of the other stuff, and then on the other end of the court, I thought that their — they switched — they continued to switch, trap, scram out of the post, kind of use that versatility all around the court, and did a good job. I thought they played really well, and obviously LeBron had a huge game, but I thought that offensive rebounds and specifically Larry Nance’s impact yesterday were big parts of the game, too.”
STATUS UPDATE: @kevinlove is experiencing concussion-like symptoms and has been placed in the league’s concussion protocol.
He is now listed as OUT for Game 7 in Boston.
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) May 26, 2018
As for the player who collided with Love, Stevens said Jayson Tatum checked out well and, barring any unexpected setbacks before Sunday night, is expected to be ready for Game 7.
“We had our primary physician and our team doc both in here today checking on him, and he’s great. He felt great this morning, felt great (Friday) night when he landed, felt great after the game. So nothing there as far as to be concerned about, but we will continue to check in especially over the next probably day and then when he wakes up (Sunday) morning.”
Love was averaging 27 minutes per game in the series. The Cavaliers will now likely fill those minutes with a combination, giving Lue some versatility with his quicker players who are more capable of switching than they were with Love. Cleveland’s offensive is different, with more of a focus on second-chance points and more LeBron-centric sets.
“We have to prepare ourselves to play well. You know, defensively they played basically a whole game without Love (Friday), and again, they did a really good job, and then offensively, again, there’s a series of plays that they’ll usually run for Love. Maybe they end up running it for somebody. They put LeBron in his spot a couple of times. But what they end up doing is they’ll — ultimately they’ve run all the different actions for all their different guys, and have done so really well, like again, if Love is not available, then probably more opportunities for LeBron, more opportunities for Korver and Smith and those guys, and you know, the point guards off those pick-and-rolls. All of those were very effective against us (Friday) night.”