Updated: 6 days ago
By Tiago Lirman
On February 20, 2023, Kevin Love joined the Miami Heat hungry to get more minutes on the court. Due to his size, basketball IQ and three-point shooting, he caught the eyes of Pat Riley and Alonzo Mourning. Since his arrival, Kevin Love has assimilated himself into "Heat Culture" known for its toughness and relentlessness. Love has averaged 7.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.99 assists since joining the Miami Heat. However, these statistics don't tell the full story of the effect Kevin Love has had since joining the Heat.
Despite the Miami Heat's struggles in the regular season, they found a way to make the NBA playoffs as the 8th seed. This meant that the Heat had to play the number one seed in the East that had the best record in the NBA: the Milwaukee Bucks. Shooting 41 percent from the field, Love played a crucial role in defeating the Bucks and earning a spot in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Additionally, Love was given the task of defending Brook Lopez, who stands at 7' 1''. As a result of this, Bam Adebayo was matched up against Giannis Antetokounmpo. These matchups were one of the main reasons why the Heat won this series.
Bam Adebayo played great defense against the two-time MVP whilst Kevin Love struggled to guard Brook Lopez. However, Bam's ability to guard "The Greek Freak" outweighed Brook Lopez's ability to score on the other side of the floor. The Miami Heat shot a shocking 51.9% from the field and defeated the number one seed of the Eastern Conference in 5 games.
Next up for the Miami Heat was the New York Knicks. The Knicks were the number 5 seed of the Eastern Conference and had just defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers. Standout players on the Knicks included Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle. During Game 1 of this series, Kevin Love recorded three assists on outlet passes that traveled more than 60 feet in a critical three-minute span in the third quarter of Game 1. Consequently, he earned the title of "QB1" and has continued to receive praise for his outlet passes - which has been a signature for Love throughout his long NBA career.
Although Kevin Love's shooting was not as efficient in that series, his defense and size helped combat the number of offensive rebounds the Knicks were predicted to get with players such as Mitchell Robinson and Isaiah Hartenstein. The Miami Heat defeated the Knicks in six games and cemented their spot in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics. The Heat are set to play the Boston Celtics for the 3rd time in the past 4 years in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Overall, Kevin Love has been a great addition to this Heat squad that was in desperate need of size. He has added shooting and the ability to stretch the floor on the offensive end to give space for Adebayo to work in the paint. He also has the size to defend centers such as Brook Lopez and Mitchell Robinson on the defensive end.
Ultimately, it is safe to say that Kevin Love has been an important part of this deep Miami Heat post-season run.