Tyronn Lue announced during Cleveland’s Sunday shootaround that Jeff Green will start in place of the injured Kevin Love. This was sort of a foregone conclusion—the only other options on the roster are Rodney Hood and Cedi Osman; Hood hasn’t touched the floor since Game 2, aside from a couple minutes of garbage time in Game 5; Osman has played 53 total minutes in these playoffs, mostly in garbage time. So, Jeff Green it is!
The good news is, Green is a vastly more versatile defender than Kevin Love, and can do a little slashing and dribble-driving on offense. The Cavs have been about three points better per hundred possessions better with Green on the floor in the Eastern Conference Finals, per NBA stats. The two best Cavs 5-man lineups to have played at least 20 minutes in this series have featured Jeff Green and not Kevin Love. And when Green was pressed into a larger role in Game 6, he responded with maybe his best game of the 2018 playoffs:
Mostly I am trying to talk myself into the Cavs having a chance to win a road Game 7 against a team that hasn’t lost at home in these playoffs, with Jeff Green in the starting lineup. The Cavs have come no closer than within 13 points of the Celtics in any of the three games in Boston in this series, and if their offense is appreciably better with Jeff Green in the starting lineup, let’s just say that will be an unexpected delight! It’s incredible to think that after all the changes in Cleveland over the last year—the Kyrie Irving trade, and subsequent trades with the Lakers and Jazz and Heat and Kings to almost completely remake the roster—LeBron James will go into the Eastern Conference Finals in a starting lineup featuring George Hill, J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson, and Jeff Green, with Kyle Korver as the most important reserve. What the hell.