Jan 11, 2018; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) watches during the fourth quarter against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Love was forced to leave Cleveland’s Game 6 win over Boston after taking a blow to the head from Jayson Tatum. It didn’t matter last night thanks to LeBron just going off, but that injury combined with Love’s concussion history threatened to linger into Sunday’s Game 7.

Today the Cavs announced that Love’s injury would indeed prevent him from playing:

Kevin Love was evaluated today prior to the team’s flight to Boston this afternoon. He is experiencing concussion-like symptoms and has been placed in the league’s concussion protocol. He is now listed as Out for tomorrow night’s game in Boston. His status will be updated as appropriate.

That’s obviously very unfortunate for Love, both in the short-term and for his long-term health. Concussions are awful, and given what we know about their possible compounding effects, and how people grow more susceptible to them with repeated injuries. There’s no avoiding potential blows to the head when you’re an NBA player, regardless of position; it’s a contact sport, after all.

In the more immediate concern, though, Cleveland still has a Game 7 to play on Sunday night. The Cavs had opened as underdogs to the Celtics, which makes some sense; Boston hasn’t lost a home game this series, after all, and the home court was enough to give Boston the nod over LeBron even before Love was ruled out. Now that Love is out, the line isn’t expected to move that much.

That might sound a bit harsh, but the bookmakers have their reasons:

That feels like a pretty drastic example of underrating Love, though; whether he scores or not, his floor spacing, rebounding, and competent passing all play big roles in freeing up LeBron to be, well, LeBron. Without Love’s presence, the Cavs are a different team; it means guys like Larry Nance Jr. and Tristan Thompson are going to have to play much bigger roles than normal, and it removes the “four shooters around LeBron” lineup that is essentially Cleveland’s secret success sauce.

It’s not losing LeBron, but it does mean LeBron’s job is that much tougher. Brad Stevens is good enough to adjust defensively for Love’s absence in an effort to capitalize, too, even with this short a turnaround.

Most of all, though, it’s one more thing that could help rob us of a fun, close Game 7. Chris Paul’s injury is threatening to do the same in the Western Conference, too, and it just sucks.

About Jay Rigdon

Jay is a columnist at Awful Announcing. He is not a strong swimmer. He is probably talking to a dog in a silly voice at this very moment.