Cavs Notes: Kevin Love makes All-Star pitch for Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen

92.3 The Fan
92.3 The Fan

CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – With All-Star fan voting ending Saturday night at midnight, Cavaliers forward Kevin Love made one last plea for two of his teammates – Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen.

Both will require an avalanche of last-minute voting from fans. According to the third and final round of returns released by the NBA, Garland ranked ninth among guards and Allen sixth among frontcourt players.

“Consistency, efficiency, their willingness to sacrifice for the team and still put up great numbers for us,” Love said.

“Both of those guys are sure shot All-Stars. I’ve seen a lot of All-Stars, played against a lot of All-Stars and played in a lot of All-Star games. Those guys, especially represented here in Cleveland are no doubt All-Stars in my mind.”

Allen entered play Saturday night ranked second leaguewide in field goal percentage shooting 69.5% while averaging career-highs in points (16.3), rebounds (10.9), assists (1.8), steals (0.85), field goal percentage and minutes per game this season.

“J.A. has every single night played hard, gotten us double doubles, damn near shot 70% from the field and allowed us to play off of him, and in some cases through him,” Love said.

Garland, who has scored at least 20 points in his last four games, has recorded 14 double-doubles this season and is on pace to become the first player in NBA history 22 years old or under to average over 19 points, seven assists and shoot over 46% from the field and 90% from the free throw line in the same season.

“Darius, especially in these last six weeks, has been phenomenal but consistent for us the entire year,” Love said.

Fun again – Love is back to having fun on the floor again. Part of that is health, the other is the Cavs are winning.

“I think the reason all of us are having so much fun is that we’re a big share the wealth type of team,” Love said. “Everybody wants to make the right play We don’t want to let anybody else down. So I think that’s what beautiful basketball, winning basketball [is about]. Obviously, winning cures a lot, but I think guys that want to get better, come to work every single day, sacrifice for each other, playing meaningful basketball makes us all happy – myself included.”

Love, who has embraced his role coming off the bench this season, ranks second among reserves leaguewide in rebounds with an average of seven per game.

“Slowly we’re gaining teams respect and respect around the league,” Love said. “That’s more than anything we wanted as a team coming into the year is to show that we are capable of being a team that can play postseason basketball.

“Teams are going to keep noticing that we are one of the teams in the East that has a chance to make some noise in the second half of the season, but I think that underdog mentality is something that you either have or don’t, and this team certainly does.”

The Cavs have been able to overcome season-ending injuries to Collin Sexton and Ricky Rubio while also getting through a COVD outbreak, things a year ago would’ve derailed their season, but not this year.

“I think we’ve dealt with adversity in a really good way and I think that is part of the growth of a good team,” Love said. “We’ve found a way to win games when we’ve been down double digits. We’ve done well with success. There’s been times where we didn’t start the game or the third or fourth quarter in a great way but we found a way to win tough basketball games against some really good teams.”

Juke box hero – Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff is getting a ton of credit for the turnaround on the floor as well as behind the scenes – and the key to his success might been his vast music library.

“We try not to be a pain in the ass every day,” Bickerstaff said. “The was we handle practice, the way we handle shootarounds, we try to make it enjoyable. We do simple things like we pick different musicians every practice where the guys are warming up and doing their individual work. We’ll put on some music and let them listen to it. Try to give a little culture to the group so it’s not always the same thing.”

Bickerstaff makes the playlist and fills it with some “old school stuff” to “make it environment where people want to come to work.”

How the West was won – Entering Saturday night’s game, Cleveland has won four straight over Western Conference foes and five of their last six.

The four-game win streak is the longest against the conference since 2017 when they won six in a row.

Home cookin’ – The Cavs entered Saturday night’s game against the Thunder having won seven of their last nine home games.

“I think we’ve been pretty consistent in our effort at home,” Bickerstaff said. “Their confidence is growing in themselves and I think you feel that home crowd and that energy behind us and I think that lifts our guys up as well.”

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