The Cleveland Cavaliers have been on a tear since a meeting in late March following a loss to the Brooklyn Nets.
Tyronn Lue challenged the Cavaliers, in particular Kevin Love, with sharp language.
"[I] just said, 'Kevin, Kyrie [Irving] and Bron (LeBron James), each night you guys got to know what to expect out of each other,'" Lue recalled. "'Until you all do that, we aren't going to be able to win.'
"And I said, 'Kevin, you got to be more aggressive. Tell LeBron, I'm a bad m-----f----- too, so throw me the ball.' Be aggressive. Run the floor. If you're open, we got to throw you the ball. You got to demand the basketball and I said, 'Score the ball and be aggressive.'"
Cleveland has a 14-4 record since then, including a perfect 8-0 in the playoffs. Love has been particularly changed and he has a double-double in every postseason game so far. The Cavs are scoring 120.8 points per 100 possession in the playoffs.
Love might never have gotten to a point to get the Cavs there if not for Lue's words in New York.
"I mean, Ty has played with, and had to go against, a lot of bad m----f------. So to get that, especially from your head coach, it's a lot of confidence," Love said. He was alluding to Lue's playing days when he teamed up with the likes of Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Tracy McGrady, Dirk Nowitzki and of course Michael Jordan. "And I have been one in this league. [Lue] just wanted me to go out there and show it."
Love's teammates can see the difference in him.
"It's evident," said James Jones, one of Love's closest friends on the team and who sits next to him on the team plane. "We always say what occurs and happens behind the scenes, and off the floor, behind closed doors, and away from the court always finds a way to seep back onto the court. So, as you see his mood, his attitude stabilize, I think he has a comfort level and an understanding of our concepts.
"... And so, like anything, once you get settled and you get your bearings, you can just let it go and you almost become automatic. And that's what his game has become. His game has become automatic where he's back to being Kevin Love that effortlessly goes out there and gets not just a double-double, he gives you a little bit of everything that you can imagine."