CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love has been in the NBA for nearly a decade, and yet, during the course of his rehabilitation to return from midseason knee surgery, he has gotten a feeling similar to his rookie year.
Love is very much looking forward to returning to the Cavaliers for the stretch run of the regular season, as well as the NBA Playoffs, where Cleveland will look to successfully defend its first league championship, which was won last June.
“Even being my ninth year, being back with the guys, this group that we have, it’s just a good energy,” Love said. “I know we haven’t played our best basketball lately, but there’s good energy around the team, and wanting to get back, that’s why I talk about the adrenaline I feel.
“I’m 28 years old. I feel like I’m just coming into the league again because I’m so antsy to get back. It’s good. You’ve got to trust the process, respect the process and give that leg time to heal, give injuries time to heal, but it’s not for a lack of wanting to be out there.”
Cleveland Cavaliers' Kevin Love closing in on return from knee surgery
Although Love is mentally ready to get back on the floor and could make his return as soon as this weekend, he will not be forcing up any shots in order to get back into game shape. Rather, he wants to serve as a complementary teammate that shoots within the rhythm of the offense.
“I know they’ll probably want to get me involved quickly, but not try to force-feed me or anything like that,” Love said. “I’ll just take what’s given to me, play inside out, and just play my normal brand of basketball. The way we play, that basketball will find you.”
Now in his third season with Cleveland, Love averaged 20.0 points, 11.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 0.9 steals over 31.9 minutes of play in 46 games. With his shooting percentages up from the field, three-point range and free-throw line over his first two years with the Cavaliers, Love raised his offensive productivity by nearly four points per game.
“Just being back to join these guys will be great,” Love said. “To put a game on it, I just don’t know, but I’d like to be back this weekend, but I just don’t know if it’ll be this weekend or next week. I imagine, at the very latest, it’ll be when we come back, but I don’t think it’ll take that long.”
Currently, the Cavaliers (44-22) hold a two-game advantage over the Boston Celtics for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Additionally, the Cavaliers enjoy a 10-game advantage over the Indiana Pacers for the Central Division lead.
But without Love, the Cavaliers are just 7-6.
“You’ve got to go through a number of things during a playoff run, getting hit, guys having minor injuries, getting through that is always part of it,” Love said. “It’s part of the process, but I definitely feel there’s a good atmosphere, a good energy and a good frame of mind with guys coming back.”