Rivers, Pierce Call Love One of Era's Greats

Kevin Love, Kevin Garnett

There will be two Kevins on the floor Wednesday night who can be called one of the best of their era.
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WALTHAM, Mass. - Kevin Love isn’t just good. He isn’t just great. He is, as Doc Rivers and Paul Pierce said on Tuesday, one of the greatest rebounders the NBA has ever seen.

“Kevin Love is one of the best rebounders of our era,” Rivers said. “I know that’s saying something early on in his career, but he is.”

Pierce, who was unaware of Rivers’ comment, mirrored that sentiment just moments later while discussing Love’s Minnesota Timberwolves, who are Boston’s opponent Wednesday night.

“That’s got to be our focus,” Pierce said of Love and rebounding in general. “You’ve got one of the great rebounders of this era in Kevin Love.”

Rivers and Pierce don’t need to do much talking to support their claim. Love’s career numbers will do it for them.

Love has averaged at least 9.1 rebounds per game in each of his four-plus seasons in the NBA, and he averaged less than 29 minutes a night in two of those seasons. He was the league’s top rebounder in 2010-11, grabbing 15.2 boards per game. Only Dennis Rodman (five times) and Ben Wallace (once) have won the rebounding title with a higher average since 1983.

The crazy thing is that Love is on an even better pace this season. He has returned to the lineup from a broken right hand with a vengeance, grabbing at least 12 boards in all six of his games this season. He maxed out at 24 rebounds against the Sacramento Kings on Nov. 27. Yes, 24 rebounds. Grabbed by a single player. The Celtics grabbed 25 rebounds as a team on Nov. 21 against San Antonio.

Love, obviously, was born with a talent that not many have possessed in this game’s history.

“He has it,” Rivers said. “It’s a gift for him.

“I watched him in the Olympics, where two of those games early in the Olympics that were kind of close in the first half, the US would have been down by 20 but Kevin Love just kept getting – he was the only big on the floor – he just kept getting rebounds.”

The evidence tells us that Love is unquestionably one of the greatest rebounders we have seen in the past 30 years. Just don’t let that fact taint your opinion of his overall game. He is not Rodman.

Love can also fill it up at the other end of the floor. He has scored 23.1 points per game over the past two seasons and is scoring 21.7 per game this season. Love is one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in basketball because he can drill a 3-pointer in your face but also score off of hustle plays around the basket.

“Kevin Love is such a different type of player,” Pierce said. “He’s a power forward, but he can step out and shoot the 3. He’s a [great] player when it comes to rebounding and doing all of the dirty work also.”

Interestingly enough, Pierce and Love have quite a bit in common. Not only do they both hail from Southern California, but both have also captured Three-Point Contest titles. Pierce shot his way way to a trophy at the 2010 All-Star weekend, while Love defeated his competition in Orlando during the 2012 All-Star weekend.

If you have the opportunity to waltz into TD Garden Wednesday night to watch the Celtics and Timberwolves go at it, take advantage. We all know that two future Hall of Famers and an unstoppable point guard will be on the floor for Boston, but one of this era’s greats will also be on the floor for the opposition.