INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love is confident that recent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee will not affect his ability to prepare for a repeat title run in the playoffs.
“There’s definitely enough time to where I can get into a good rhythm,” Love said Friday, speaking to reporters for the first time since having the surgery to remove a loose body in his knee 10 days ago. “I don’t know what the [plan is] as far as other guys resting or me resting going forward, but I imagine between J.R. [Smith] and myself, we’ll get out there and get our wind and be ready to go for whenever [the playoffs start] in April.”
Love and Smith, who is recovering from surgery on the thumb of his shooting hand, are both expected back in the Cavaliers’ lineup sometime in March.
While Love described the procedure as “very minor,” he would not come off the six-week timeline the team has provided for his recovery.
“Every time I’ve been in a situation like this, usually when they say six weeks, they mean six weeks,” Love said. “As far as how I feel now, I feel great. But I’ll go through all the protocol. I’ll be back here on the floor, getting the stitches out, before that, getting the swelling down. It’s all just part of going through it.”
The exact moment Love injured the knee remains unclear. Shortly before the All-Star break, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue revealed that Love played at least three games with his knee already bothering him leading up to surgery, believing the pain stemmed from knee-to-knee contact.
Love maintained Friday, however, that he still doesn’t know when he hurt his knee and didn’t feel notable discomfort until the Cavs hosted the Denver Nuggets on Feb. 11 — the last game he played before the surgery.
“I felt it before the game,” Love said. “It was probably there a game or two before, but that’s the time when I really felt it.”
The surgery caused Love — enjoying his finest season since joining the Cavs with averages of 20 points and 11.1 rebounds per game — to miss the All-Star Game. He said that before he went under the knife he considered, ever so briefly, to play on the bum knee in the exhibition contest.
“There was some human emotion in me,” Love said. “I was like, ‘I’ll go out there and play anyway. And maybe I can get back into the 3-point [shootout].’”
The 2012 winner of the 3-point shootout was kidding.
“No,” Love said with a laugh at the thought of prioritizing the weekend in New Orleans over the Cavaliers’ title goal. “But, no. It was an easy decision. I had an 8 a.m. [appointment], the first surgery [available] Tuesday morning, so it was an easy decision.”
Love said the deciding factor was using the All-Star break to get a head start on recovery while not missing any games that will affect Cleveland’s place in the standings.
“I thought for myself, for the team and everybody’s best interests, it was good for me to get that week,” Love said. “It definitely did buy me some time where there wasn’t games where I was able to recover, not miss games, and I put in a week of recovery before I got back.”
Love said he expects to have the stitches in his knee removed this weekend.
Tuesday will mark the two-week point in his recovery, when he will progress to doing lateral activity on the court once again. Love said he has been limited to “linear” running and “real easy shooting” when he has practiced.
“It shouldn’t be too long before I’m moving around pretty well,” he added.
The four-time All-Star said he had a similar “cleanup” in his left knee in April 2013, which had a six-week recovery.
“I just had it done, and in six weeks I was back,” Love said. “We didn’t make the playoffs, so within six weeks I was working out and feeling good.”
Lue did not make it sound like he would be rushing Love back, even though he maintains his team’s mission of winning the top seed in the East. The Cavs currently lead the Boston Celtics by 3½ games.
“We’re going to rest guys coming in March,” Lue said Friday. “We’re going to rest guys, and the other guys got to step up like we’ve been doing all season. We’ll be ready, but we’ll have a decent amount of cushion, I hope so, when we rest those guys. … It’s just we got to be ready to rest guys when it’s time to rest.”
Love, whom Lue described as being in low spirits at the time of the surgery, has also had time for his demeanor to recover, it would seem.
“I feel better,” Love said. “I was out walking within a few days. They gave me a cool cane for the first two days. So I feel good.”