The Wood Shop: Kevin’s Finally Being Kevin

Over the first two games against the Pacers, Kevin Love has been the surprise stud of the team. He may not be the flashiest Cavalier, but he’s doing work. And, he’s doing it very efficiently. He’s averaging 22 a night, shooting 50% from 3-land, and has a true shooting percentage of 88.7%. Basically, if Kevin shoots the ball, the Cavs will get a point from him making it or hitting the ensuing free throws. He’s only averaging 7.5 boards this series, but his offense is more than making up for that.

Part of the reason for Love’s scoring success has been a commitment to getting to where he shoots the best from behind the arc. Like most players, he does his best shooting from the shortened corners. During the regular season, he took 36.7% of his 3-pointers from the corners and shot a very respectable 42%. In the playoffs,  70% of his 3s have come from the corners.

It’s unlikely Love keeps taking so many 3s from the corners, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he kept hitting over 40% from deep. He’s shooting without hesitation, which hasn’t always been the case for him.

In the play below, Love quickly gets down the floor and stands near the left hand corner to space the floor. He’s not exactly in the corner though, which is very important. The Cavs then run some action on the strong side with LeBron James screening and rolling to the hoop. James gets the ball with a head of steam to the rim. This causes Love’s man, along with the rest of the Pacers to move into the paint or be within a step of the paint. Love then quickly moves to the corner to ensure his man has to think a little bit about where he’s closing out to and to give himself the shortest shot possible. He takes the attempt the second he receives the ball.

Love has been very consistent staying in the weak side corner and forcing the Pacers to close out long distances. It’s almost automatic that he will scoot into the corner when his man leaves to stop penetration, usually LeBron’s penetration.

Love isn’t just hanging out at the 3-line though. He’s been establishing very early post position. If a small guy is trying to cover him, it’s game over. In this play from game one, Love sprints down the floor and spends just one second on the right side of block before Kyrie Irving finds him with the ball. Love’s smaller defender falls to the ground trying to steal the post pass, and the man behind him just can’t stop him as he elevates to hook it in.

It’s also interesting to see how open Kyle Korver and Deron Williams are at the 3-point line. Again, five Pacers are in the paint or within a foot of the paint.

In game two, Love went off in the third quarter when the Pacers decided to place Lance Stephenson on him. He scored ten straight points and it was all because he decided he would get into the paint fast. His first points in the quarter came when he got down the floor and established himself a foot outside of the left block. Irving threw him the entry pass right away and ran to the other side of the court, which eliminated the chance of a defender sagging down and catching Love blindly. Love then dribbled in and turned to the rim to get fouled by Stephenson. He drained the free throws.

The next time down the court, Love just ran as fast as possible and James hit him for an automatic bucket at the hoop, since Lance was too far under the basket to do anything.

LeBron and Love emulated that play again just a play later, as LeBron lobbed the ball to Love with Stephenson stuck on his back. Lance romanced Love and sent him to the line again where he drained both freebies.

Love’s next points came off a tip-in no one boxed him out on, and his final points in the quarter came when James lobbed the ball into him behind the Pacer’s defense. They, of course, had to foul him.

The Pacers probably won’t defend Love this poorly again all series, but if Love commits to running the floor and establishing himself on the block early, great things will happen. Mismatches will just occur naturally as the Pacers scurry to stop a sprinting LeBron or Irving while they bring the ball up. It also helps that Love acts decisively with the ball down low, so he isn’t working against an established defender. He’s usually going against a guy who is tap dancing, which is a guy who is very easy to move.

And, if Love can keep getting deep position, it’s only going to help the shooters on the team. Look at the videos above. The Pacers have a really bad habit of helping into the paint anytime the ball starts moving towards the hoop. Love has just four assists so far this series, but he could easily double that in just the next game. I’m looking forward to seeing the Cavs utilize Love and round into form over the coming weeks. His injury may be hurting his rebounding, but offensively he’s looking as good as ever.

Leave a Reply

10 Comments on "The Wood Shop: Kevin’s Finally Being Kevin"

avatar
1500
Photo and Image Files
 
 
 
Audio and Video Files
 
 
 

Mike Podracky
Guest
Mike Podracky
3 days 2 hours ago

Very nice analysis, David. I have been almost as repetitive as a certain commentator currently on CtB hiatus with my pet peeve regarding the Cavs forgetting Love is on the team in too many second halves. The inaccurate narrative is that KLove has a strong first quarter and/or half, and then “disappears” in the second half, particularly the 4th quarter. Obviously, Love needs to be fed in the post throughout the game. Our ISO ball tendencies in crunch time hurt both Love’s production, and lately our attempts to put teams totally away. I would take Love’s post moves in the 4th over a step back LeBron three, or an Irving drive into double coverage. Irving is often the worst offender about not feeding Love even when he is calling for the ball or wide open from three. And Love is usually money from the line.

JMay
Guest
JMay
3 days 1 hour ago

The fact of the matter is, when you aren’t the primary ball handler or one of several primary ball handlers, you HAVE to rely on someone else getting you the ball. Kyrie isn’t great at this, as he always leans toward producing on his own. The curious thing is that LeBron loves to set up other teammates. It’s almost like LeBron takes the “I’m going to get my teammates started” approach and then after he gets his teammates hot, he goes away from them to get himself established. Unfortunately, by that time, the other team has either caught back up, or the player initially hot has lost his NBA Jam.

Simmo
Guest
Simmo
3 days 2 hours ago

Could not have put it better. You comment belong up above in the already excellent article.

JMay
Guest
JMay
3 days 3 hours ago

Has Cols been on Zero-Dark 23? He hasn’t been around lately.

MikeO
Guest
MikeO
2 days 17 hours ago

He’s been on FtS, where he seems to have a more amicable audience for
his nonsense.

Scotch
Guest
Scotch
3 days 6 hours ago

This is a fantastic piece David! Makes me confident th Cavs are on the right track (when Kev’s usage rate is high the Cavs are unstoppable…this is backed up by this thing called stats). Kev is the piece other teams have trouble with…he’s a knock down shooter with a sick post game. The only team with a defender to match him is golden state (braymond)…and if bray guards Kev there is no one to check Lebron except Iggy…damn this finals could be an insanely good threequal.

JMay
Guest
JMay
3 days 3 hours ago

That team is going to be tough to go against. They won’t make the same rotation mistakes as the Pacers. Hopefully by then, the Cavs are playing well enough to over come it. Their defense still needs to improve.

Jason
Guest
Jason
3 days 12 hours ago

Good piece. Love needs more touches & shots, especially in the 4th.

Kevin
Guest
Kevin
3 days 16 hours ago

Love the love for Kev! His defensive effort has also been outstanding. He really is working out there and gets shafted on so many charge/blocking calls.

Cory Hughey
Guest
Cory Hughey
3 days 17 hours ago

Really enjoyed this David. When LeBron cripitcially said that he’s confident in the Cavs chances of repeating, I initially thought of Love and how much more he’ll contribute in the Finals this year, than he did last year.

wpDiscuz