CLEVELAND, Ohio – Through four games this season, Kevin Love has been the Cavaliers’ do-it-all big man.
He’s averaged 16.0 points per game, good for third on the team. He’s the second-leading rebounder in the NBA. And to top it off, he’s one of the Cavs’ best facilitators, ranking first on the team in assists per game.
Love sat at his locker Wednesday after the Cavs’ 117-111 win over the Chicago Bulls, and he fielded questions while wearing a Jason Voorhees, Friday the 13th mask.
Like the iconic fictional killer, Love has been swift about his work this season. He put up his fourth straight double-double Wednesday, scoring 17 points and grabbing a game-high 20 rebounds, his most as a Cavalier. Love also tallied a team-high six assists.
While Love has played well, he’s had a partner this season who’s done just as much damage. Tristan Thompson also recorded his fourth straight double-double, scoring a team-high 23 points with 10 rebounds, while swatting a career-high five blocks.
Love and Thompson have been a duo that’s been a nightmare for opponents in and around the paint.
“I think we’re just feeding off each other,” Love said. “We talk every day and the day of the game as well that we need to set the tone for the rest of the team, and I think we’ve been doing that since Game 1.”
Whether it’s been Love setting up Thompson for a dunk, or the pair taking turns grabbing rebounds, they have helped to create an early identity for the Cavs.
“Like I told Kev from the beginning of the season, me and him gotta set the tone early,” Thompson said. “I think if me and him set the tone early, it makes it easier for our young guards to get off and get their game going.”
The Cavs run their offense through the middle of the floor, and Thompson is the hub. He cuts into open spaces and gives good angles for teammates to find him.
After the game, coach John Beilein said Thompson came into the season in good condition.
Thompson said he and Love have always had synergy, but their connection wasn’t displayed as much in the past because of how the Cavs were structured.
During LeBron James’ second stint in Cleveland, Thompson wasn’t nearly as much of an offensive threat as he is now. He was solid at scoring around the rim, catching lobs and being an option in the pick-and-roll. Now he’s regularly scoring off jump hooks — that hasn’t been part of his arsenal.
Although Love was an offensive threat, he sometimes was relegated to simply being a floor spacer. He was involved in the offense, but he couldn’t show the full extent of his game.
Now, Love is averaging the most assists per game (5.0) of his career through four games, and the Cavs are 2-2.
“We were able to show it these first couple games,” Thompson said of his connection with Love. “But all season we gotta do that, and it’s on us.”
The Cavs will play the Pacers in Indianapolis on Friday at 7 p.m. ET.