Cleveland Cavaliers big man Kevin Love left Saturday's loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder after playing just three minutes because of illness, but some of his teammates reportedly questioned his rationale.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Cleveland "held an emotional team meeting prior to Monday's practice where several players challenged the legitimacy of Kevin Love leaving" the game as well as missing Sunday's practice because of the illness.
Wojnarowski added more details:
Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn
In a locker room increasingly full of finger-pointing, Love defended himself and explained his side to teammates, coaches and management, sources said. At end of meeting, there was a sense with some that team had worked out some issues, but that ultimately remains to be seen.2018-1-23 03:02:26
The finger-pointing tidbit jumps out, considering Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com reported after last Monday's loss to the Golden State Warriors "multiple players acknowledged growing discontent and a strong sense of concern that unlike past seasons, the team does not have the capability to fix its problems and get back on a championship track."
Bleacher Report @BleacherReport
A look inside the Cavs locker room today.. https://t.co/Rg67rlhWBp2018-1-23 03:15:07
He pointed to an older roster and defensive shortcomings as some of the problems and also noted the loss to the Warriors dropped the Cavaliers' record against the top three teams in both conferences at the time to 1-6.
The defensive issues were never more apparent than when the Cavaliers allowed 148 points in Saturday's loss to the Thunder, but they have given up triple digits in 10 of their last 11 games. What's more, they are an abysmal 29th in the league in defensive rating, per NBA.com, and have consistently looked lost on that end of the floor.
Love, the reported focus of Monday's meeting, has not helped much on defense, considering opponents are shooting 5.8 percent better from the field than their normal averages when he guards them, per NBA.com.
"We could easily get bounced early in the playoffs if they started next weekend," LeBron James said after Saturday's loss, per McMenamin. "Haven't even began thinking about the postseason."
The playoffs are still far away, but Cleveland is a mere 3-9 in its last 12 games and needs to bolster its defensive effort if it plans on reaching the NBA Finals for the fourth straight season.