CLEVELAND: If the Cavaliers are going to advance beyond the second round of the postseason, they’re going to have to do it with two stars instead of three.
Kevin Love has been ruled out of the Eastern Conference semifinals, likely against the Chicago Bulls, the Cavaliers announced Monday.
In addition, J.R. Smith has been suspended for two games by the league for his conduct, meaning the Cavs will be without 40 percent of their starting lineup – and one-third of their scoring – for the first two games of the next series.
Love was diagnosed with "acute anterior inferior glenohumeral dislocation with corresponding ligament/labrum tearing & humeral head bone bruising,” according to the team. In layman’s terms, he dislocated his left shoulder and suffered torn ligaments and a tear in his labrum in the process. A determination on his availability beyond the second round will be made in the coming days, the team said.
Love was injured fighting for a rebound during the first quarter of Sunday’s Game 4 victory at the Boston Celtics when Kelly Olynyk pinned Love’s left arm under his own and pulled it out of the socket. Love called it a “bush league” play.
“I have no doubt in my mind that he did that on purpose,” Love said, adding he expected the league to look at it and for punishment to be “swift and just.”
Olynyk was suspended one game by the league, meaning he’ll sit next season’s opener, while Kendrick Perkins avoided a suspension for his flagrant foul on Jae Crowder when he shoved Crowder near the neck and throat on a vicious screen. Perkins, however, was fined $15,000.
Olynyk, who did not speak to reporters on Sunday, told the Boston Globe on Monday that Love clamped his arm first, so he clamped back and was trying to hold Love away so Avery Bradley could get the rebound.
“Obviously I would never intentionally hurt him or any player on the floor,” Olynyk told the Globe. “I don’t think anybody in our league would intentionally try and hurt someone, especially at this time of year.
“It’s terrible the way it happened. But, you know, it’s a part of basketball. Everyone gets tangled up and stuff. Unfortunately it happened. You’re always locked up, grabbing, pulling. It’s just unfortunate it happened.”
Olynyk said he tried contacting Love to apologize, but hadn’t yet reached him.
“I’d probably get killed if I went to Cleveland right now,” Olynyk said. “I don’t think if someone gave me their arm and I was running forward like that and locked up, I don’t think I could dislocate someone’s arm if I tried. I think it’s a real tough thing to do. Like I said before, it’s kind of ridiculous to say you intentionally meant to. I’d never intentionally hurt someone, him or anybody else for that matter.”
The Cavs took Monday off following the series sweep and likely spent the day formulating a revamped plan of attack. Smith’s violent backwards swing caught the jaw of Jae Crowder in the third quarter and dropped him to the court instantly.
Crowder fell awkwardly on his left knee. He was diagnosed with a sprained ACL and avoided more serious damage, such as a full tear.
“I figured I would be much better at keeping my composure in these things,” Smith said Sunday. “I think we as a team would be better at that. Unfortunately it happened and there’s nothing we can do about it now.”
The conference finals cannot begin before May 17. If the Cavs can survive the second round without Love, he would have exactly three weeks to heal from the date of the injury.
The Cavs, however, can’t worry about that now. They’ll have their hands full with the Bulls knowing they’re without Love for the entire series and Smith for the start of it. Those two combined for 33.4 points per game during the regular season.
Love had X-rays and an MRI at the Cleveland Clinic on Monday and was examined by Cavs doctors. He is seeking additional opinions, the team said.
“It’s next man up,” LeBron James said Sunday. “What goes on with our team, those are two big pieces, obviously, next man up. No excuses. You just get ready to go out and play.”