For the first time in six months, Kevin Love was back on the court and playing full-court, full-contact 5-on-5 basketball. And just as he had been the past couple of weeks, Love came out of it encouraged, healthy, and ready to take the next step.
“I felt good. Just getting into the rhythm of the plays more than anything, just getting my legs under me and (taking) contact. As time goes, I’ll get more accustomed to being out there playing, but today was the first step.
“(I felt) pretty anxious,” Love said. “It had been six months now. As far as progressing from the pad into 1-on-1, to 3-on-3, I was ready to get back out there in 5-on-5. As time goes I’ll get more and more accustomed to being out there playing, but today was the first step.”
Prior to Saturday’s first full practice that he participated in, Love talked about whether he would be ready for the opener.
“As far as the opener goes, I am not completely sure. I’ll probably get with the doctors and see what they have to say. I know that my six-month post-op is coming up here pretty fast. As far as getting the strength back, getting the range of motion, I feel pretty good, so I am looking forward to getting into some more contact, getting into a rhythm and getting out there as quickly as I can.”
David Blatt was impressed with Love during his first practice, and he could sense the wanting to get back on the floor. However, he would not commit to changing the Cavs’ plans and playing Love in one of the two upcoming preseason games against the Memphis Grizzlies and the Milwaukee Bucks.
“He’d been hungry to play,” Blatt said. “We’d been holding him back. He’s been very anxious to play with the guys in a 5-on-5 game situation and I’m sure he feels good today.”
“At this point we’re kind of trying to stay true to our plan here. And we could throw him out there, but I don’t think it’s necessary at this point. We’re just going to keep working and keep progressing consistently and steadily with him.”
Love himself said that he may be able to squeeze in a few minutes in Thursday’s matchup against the Indiana Pacers.
“Again, he’s worked very, very hard,” Blatt said. “He’s worked all summer with our performance director, Alex Moore. He works every day, hard, in terms of getting his conditioning up and working on his skill work. He’s ready to play. We’ll just continue to be cautious and go step-by-step with him.”
LeBron James also chimed in on Love’s first practice and looked forward to having Love back on the floor.
“He looked well. He looked healthy,” said LeBron James. “It was great to have him out there for our team and it was great to have another body back out there, especially someone who’s going to mean so much to our team, so he looked pretty good coming back. I think he’s going to be so good for us, man. I’m excited to just have him back out on the floor.”