OAKLAND, Calif. -- As if things weren't going badly enough for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, they lost Kevin Love to a concussion in Game 2. They also got hammered 110-77 by the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night.
The blow to Love's head, and his subsequent retreat to the locker room with dizziness, has further imperiled the Cavs' chances of turning the series around as they've been routed in the first two games at Oracle Arena.
Love was injured in the second quarter when Harrison Barnes swooped in for a rebound and his elbow struck Love in the back of the head. Love grabbed his head, curled up, crumpled to the floor and stayed there -- until Draymond Green drove over and around his prone body for a layup.
The Cavaliers said Love did not exhibit concussion-like symptoms at that point or during the halftime break. But he experienced dizziness when he returned to the court for the third quarter, went to the locker room and was diagnosed with a concussion, the team said. He's listed as day-to-day.
"At halftime, he showed no symptoms," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. "He didn't talk about it. Then when we came back out in the third quarter, I could see in a timeout he looked kind of woozy. He went back on the floor for a second, and then we had to get him off the floor."
It is common that concussion symptoms do not present immediately following a head injury. Once they have, Love must be monitored for 24 hours for the evolution of symptoms. He cannot begin the return-to-play exertion protocol for at least 24 hours after the injury, according to league policy.
Game 3 is Wednesday night in Cleveland.
Love cannot return to play until he is symptom-free at rest; has been evaluated by a physician; and has successfully completed the NBA's return-to-play exertion protocol.
The return-to-play protocol involves escalating exertion -- from a stationary bike, to jogging, to agility work, to non-contact team drills. Under league policy, Love must be symptom-free at each step before he is permitted to progress to the next step. If he experiences symptoms, he must stop, wait until he is symptom-free, and then resume the protocol with the last step he completed while symptom-free.
Love, who missed the final three rounds of the postseason last year with a dislocated shoulder, cannot return to play until he has completed all steps symptom-free. The final decision rests with the team physician, but he must consult with the director of the NBA's concussion program, Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher.
There is no timeline for the protocol, as it varies from player to player and injury to injury. The way the NBA Finals are going in the first two games, it will be a race to see what happens first -- Love is cleared to play or the Warriors end the series.