The Cleveland Cavaliers have had a season with more twists and turns than a Mexican soap opera. On Monday, the team’s head Coach Ty Lue announced he was taking a leave of absence for health reasons. It tempered the news of forward Kevin Love returning to the lineup from injury.

Cleveland Cavaliers
Cavaliers coach Ty Lue (left) is taking a leave of absence for health reasons, but forward Kevin Love (right) returned to the lineup on Monday after more than a month on injured reserve with a fractured left hand. (Image: Getty)

The Cavs remain in the hunt for a high seed in the playoffs, but currently sit in third place after being picked to win the Eastern Conference. In November, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook had LeBron James and company as the 10/11 pick to make it to the NBA Finals.

With less than a month remaining in the regular season, the Cavaliers are barely hanging on to home-court advantage through the early rounds, and have seen their odds slip to 2/1, behind the Toronto Raptors, who are at 9/5 to take the East.

Cleveland is currently 12/1 to win the NBA Championship, behind Houston at 17/10 and Golden State at 5/7. They began the season as the second pick to win the Larry O’Brien trophy at 4/1.

Fighting through Drama

On Monday, Cleveland defeated the Milwaukee Bucks, 124-117, to remain in the third spot in the East, but that position is tenuous. They are just a half-game ahead of Indiana, and one game up on the Washington Wizards.

They did so without Lue, who said he will be resting for at least a few games to try and regain his health.

“I have had chest pains and other troubling symptoms, compounded by a loss of sleep, throughout the year,” Lue said in a statement.

Earlier this year the 40 year old was rumored to be on the chopping block because of the team’s struggles. A preseason trade with Boston that sent Kyrie Irving to the Celtics for Isaiah Thomas was a disaster, as was adding veterans Derrick Rose and Dwayne Wade.

By the trade deadline all three of those players were gone and the Cavaliers management got younger athletes in an effort to shore up its lineup and make a deep run in the playoffs. Since the February trades the team has gone 10-7.

Love Should Help

With the veteran Love returning after fracturing his left hand at the end of January, the team might be able to take on Toronto and Boston in the playoffs. Love told reporters after Monday’s victory that he felt strong after scoring 18 points and pulling down seven rebounds.

“It felt pretty good,” Love said. “That first one is always tough, but even after that, I felt my legs were underneath me and that I could’ve played a little bit more.”

James said that Love back in the lineup was exactly what the Cavaliers needed.

“Just having another body is great for our team,” he said. “Then, just his basketball IQ, his familiarity with our system and what we do — he just fits right back in. And then his ability to stretch the floor allows a lot of opposing bigs to not just sit in the paint and clog up the paint.”

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