Tuesday night's meeting in Cleveland between the Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves will be the first time Kevin Love takes the court against his former team.
Lucky for Love, perhaps, is that he'll be playing at Quicken Loans Arena, not Target Center. On Monday, Timberwolves head coach Flip Saunders said Wolves fans probably won't forgive Love for, in a way, deserting them to play for a winning team. But while Wolves fans may heartily boo Love when he returns to Minnesota for the first time on Jan. 31, Love is enjoying a winning season.
“It’s a different feeling in the locker room, the plane, the bus ride, practice,” Love told Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune. ”It’s just a different feeling when you’re around a winning atmosphere. To be around that — especially those eight in a row and eight of our last nine at home — it’s definitely different. It feels good. We just want to keep it going. It makes me happy.”
Love said he grew tired of the "constant losing" in Minnesota. Now he's playing for a red-hot Cavs team, that after a slow start to the season, is 16-10 and moving its way up the Eastern Conference standings.
Tuesday's matchup with the Wolves will feature only a few familiar faces to Love. Corey Brewer and Ronny Turiaf were traded last week, and Ricky Rubio and Nikola Pekovic stayed in Minnesota to rehab their injuries. The Star Tribune says the only players Love will recognize from last year's team are Kevin Martin, who is also injured, Robbie Hummel, Gorgui Dieng and Chase Budinger.
Love, meanwhile, is still putting up double-doubles, averaging 16.8 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. His numbers are down from years past, but that has a little something to do with playing alongside LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. Love does still lead the league in outlet passes turned into points, or as ESPN says, "touchdown" passes.
As of last Tuesday, Love's 18 "touchdown" passes were the most in the NBA. He led the league with 84 last season; the next closest player had 34. LeBron called Love's ability to hit players on the run a "unique gift."
Cleveland's media outlets aren't covering Love's matchup with the Wolves like Minnesota media is. Instead, Ohioans are more focused on LeBron's return to Miami on Christmas day.
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