The Cleveland Cavaliers were embarrassed by the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night, and fell two games behind the Warriors in the seven game series. Things quickly went from bad to worse after the Cavaliers were told their All-Star power forward Kevin Love suffered a concussion after taking an elbow to the head, which could force him to miss at least one game. The Warriors, who were NBA betting picks before the series started, will be even bigger favorites to win it all if the Cavs don’t have Love in the lineup.
The injury to Love occurred in the second quarter when Harrison Barnes hit Love in the head with his elbow as he was going for a rebound. After the hit, Love fell to the ground and clutched his head in obvious pain.
After going to the bench, Love was allowed to return after a while because he did not exhibit any symptoms of a concussion and played the rest of the first half. In the third quarter, Love started experiencing dizziness and asked to be substituted out of the game.
Love walked back to the locker room with team trainer Steve Spiro, and was placed in the concussion protocol after further evaluation.
According to the NBA’s concussion policy, which was instituted in 2011, any player placed in the concussion protocol has to be monitored for 24 hours "for the evolution of symptoms, and accordingly the player may not begin the return-to-participation exertion protocol until 24 hours after the time of injury."
After the 24 hours are up, Love must slowly increase his activity from a stationary bike to jogging. After jogging, he can start agility work then non-contact team drills.
With each step, Love has to be free of concussion symptoms before he can begin the next step. If he is not free of symptoms after a step, he has to stop until he is symptom free and start the stage over.
Since each player is different and recovery times vary, there is no timeframe to complete the protocol, which means that Love could play on Wednesday or be done for the rest of the playoffs, depending on his symptoms.
Last season, the Warriors dealt with the same issue when Klay Thompson suffered a concussion during the Western Conference Finals after he was hit in the head. Thompson had eight days to recover between the end of the series and beginning of the NBA Finals and was cleared to return by the time the Finals began.
The Cavs will be the ones to make the final decision on when Love returns, but the NBA’s policy requires them to keep in contact with Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, the NBA’s concussion program’s director.
According to Jeff Stotts, a certified athletic trainer and injury analyst for Rotowire, pointed out that Love missed the last seven games of the 2011/2012 season while dealing with a concussion. According to his database, there has only been two occasions where a player did not miss any games after a concussion.
Love is averaging 11 points and 8 rebounds for the Cavs during the NBA Finals. If he is forced to miss a game, the Cavs have not announced who will replace him in the starting lineup.
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