Love, Marion say they’re ready to return to action
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)—Kevin Love and Shawn Marion expect to play against the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night—welcome news for a Cleveland Cavaliers team without LeBron James for the next two weeks because of knee and back strains.
Love said at Friday morning’s shootaround that the back spasms that kept him out of Cleveland’s last game have subsided and he’s “going to give it a go.” Marion missed the last two games with a sprained ankle.
Love hopes to use James’ absence as a chance to expand his role. The Cavs are 18-14 and have lost three straight.
“You have to look at this as a glass half full,” he said. “I know that our best player is out, our leader is out, but it’s an opportunity for other players to step up, myself included.”
James did not travel to Charlotte. The team said Thursday the four-time MVP will be treated with “anti-inflammatories, rehabilitation, training room treatments and rest.”
James could miss 10 games if he’s out the full two weeks, which would be the longest stretch of his career. The 11-year pro has never missed more than five straight games during his career.
Cavaliers coach David Blatt said Friday that James hasn’t felt 100 percent “for some time.”
“He’s been toughing it out and he’s been giving us everything he has despite some discomfort—not overwhelming discomfort, but discomfort,” Blatt said.
“It was exacerbated during the Miami game (on Christmas),” he added. “And from that that point forward we looked at this in a different way and decided together with him the best thing was to try to attack this problem straight on and allow him to heal completely, even at the expense of him being down for more than a few days and get him back to where he feels 100 percent and go from there.”
Blatt isn’t sure when James will resume travel with the team, saying it will depend on his rehab. Point guard Kyrie Irving said he others must “hold the fort down.”
“We have to pick up the work that is not out there right now and it goes back to everyone being ready to play,” Irving said.
Irving expects to have the ball in his hands more with James not on the court.
“When you have LeBron out there you can conserve a lot more energy because when he’s playing point guard, as being off the ball you see things a little differently,” Irving said. “You kind of get on the second side pick-and-roll and defenses aren’t loading up on you as much. For me now, I just have to pick my spots on when to attack and when to get other guys involved.”
The Cavaliers face a Hornets team also without its best player. Center Al Jefferson has an injured groin and will be sidelined at least four weeks.