Kevin Love has successfully passed his first litmus test after returning to action Sunday night.
Six months since undergoing surgery for a shoulder injury in opening round of last season’s playoffs versus the Boston Celtics, Love is back on the court for the Cavaliers.
Love posted six points and four rebounds in his first full game back, testing his surgically repaired shoulder, but this didn’t help much as Cleveland remained winless in the preseason after absorbing an 87-81 defeat to the Toronto Raptors.
Cavs head coach David Blatt was said to be “extremely pleased” with the three-time NBA All-Star’s performance in his 13 minutes on the court.
Blatt said Love will once again be in a starting role when the Cleveland wraps up their preseason schedule at home versus the Dallas Mavericks this Monday. Love is expected to play more minutes.
Four-time MVP LeBron James and Richard Jefferson did not play for the Cavaliers.
Toronto’s Anthony Bennett poured 11 points against Cleveland, the team that picked him in the 2013 NBA Draft.
With forward Tristan Thompson locked in a contract dispute and point guard Kyrie Irving still recovering from a left knee injury suffered in Game 1 of last year’s NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, the Cavs are hoping Love will be able to contribute more on the offensive end.
Traded from Minnesota to Cleveland in a three-team deal in August 2014, Love reached the playoffs for the first time as a professional last spring, but his experience didn’t last long.
Averaging 16.4 points and 9.7 rebounds in 75 starts in the regular season, the 26-year-old power forward had to sit out the rest of the postseason after injuring his shoulder when Boston’s Kelly Olynyk pulled on it and yanked it from the socket on April 26 as the Cavaliers completed a first-round sweep of the Celtics.
Love underwent surgery three days later, while Olynyk was meted with a suspension for the first game of the 2015-16 season.
Love opted out of the final year of his contract to become a free agent, but returned to Cleveland by signing a five-year, $113.2 million contract in July.