(SportsNetwork.com) - Kevin Love spent six years in NBA purgatory playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
So when he had a chance to finally get a taste of playoff basketball, he took the first flight to Cleveland to whet his appetite.
Love's choice was an easy one because he can play alongside his Pepsi Max sidekick Uncle Drew, a character portrayed by All-Star Kyrie Irving. Love goes by the name Wes in the hilarious advertisements, which features the two Cleveland stars as old men re-capturing their affinity for basketball.
Irving wasn't the only attraction for Love, with freak of nature LeBron James back to his roots in the Forest City. James recruited Love and it wasn't so divine early on for the talented power forward in his new digs.
James has a knack for the passive-aggressive approach of inspiring teammates. He questioned Love's confidence in February following a five-point performance in a 97-84 win versus Philadelphia.
Love didn't attempt a shot after going 1-for-7 from the floor in the opening quarter.
"I think Kev had some shots that he passed up on," James said. "Maybe he felt that he just wasn't in a good rhythm, but I know I hit him with a few (potential) shots after the first quarter where he had some good looks when he decided to swing-swing (with a pass), which is OK, it kept the ball moving. So, I think for Kev, I think his confidence maybe shooting the ball is a little down, but for me as a player, I get him good looks. I want him to shoot the ball and he needs to shoot it with confidence."
James and Love have hugged it out since and are looking toward the main goal, winning an NBA championship. Love has acclimated himself nicely to playoff basketball and the Cavaliers are one win away from sweeping the Boston Celtics out of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
Love scored 19 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in Game 1, added 13 points and six boards in Game 2, then finished with 23 points and nine rebounds in Thursday's Game 3 victory.
This is Love's first appearance in the playoffs, but you wouldn't think it.
"He's played an unbelievable series," James said.
He wasn't done there.
"The one thing about him, he's always stayed positive, I've always believed in him. I don't really get too involved in what everybody says. I know what type of player he is, what type of competitor he is, and I know he relishes this opportunity to be part of this franchise and be a part of the postseason."
King James believes Love is using the early criticism as motivation and has himself to thank for the encouragement. Love has been as advertised in three games this postseason, averaging 18.3 points and nine rebounds.
"People have focused my whole career on what I couldn't do rather than what I could do," Love said. "So, I know that my teammates and the coaching staff has my back and the organization has my back, and I'm sending love right back to them."
Love has the chance to send the Cavaliers to the next round Sunday in Boston. It appears the Chicago Bulls will sweep their series as well against the Milwaukee Bucks, setting up a huge semifinal series between Central rivals.
"I think he's a big-time player," James said. "He's a very cerebral basketball player, and in order for us to be the team that we want to be long term, Kevin is going to be Kevin."