Seeing Kevin Love already go further than Cavs with Heat is so frustrating

Kevin Love and Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)
Kevin Love and Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images) /

Kevin Love had a resurgent season in 2021-22, as he exceeded expectations with the Cleveland Cavaliers then, and was finally able to have a healthy and drama-free campaign. Love and the team mutually agreed he’d come off the bench coming into last season, and the move paid dividends for both parties.

In a role shift, Love gave the Cavaliers a bench boost with his shooting and defensive rebounding expertise, and for his efforts, finished as the runner-up in voting for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year. He had 13.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per contest, in what was 20.0 minutes per game.

Unfortunately for Love, he did not have the same success with the Cavaliers this season. Love got off to a pretty nice start for Cleveland, but a thumb injury seemingly hampered him as a shooter, and he wasn’t able to have nearly the same impact for the Wine and Gold’s bench.

Eventually, Love was out of the Cavs rotation when Dean Wade was back from missing an extended period with an AC joint injury. Love wasn’t regularly involved in weeks leading into the league’s February trade deadline, and eventually, he and the team came to terms on a buyout agreement post-deadline.

Following that, Love would end up signing with the Miami Heat, and was able to get what he was looking for, in opportunities to play. Granted, Love wasn’t necessarily burning it up for Miami in the closing stretch of the regular season, with 7.7 points per contest, and he hit just 29.7 percent of his three-point attempts in 21 appearances.

That said, Love has at least helped space the floor and clear some of the glass in his time in the postseason now with the Heat, and it’s been kind of ironic to see him back in the playoffs, just not with the Cavs. And him having this run has been frustrating to see with a No. 8 seed in the Heat, especially.

Kevin Love’s having the playoff run and role he was looking for, just now with the Heat, and not with the Cavs. The Wine and Gold could’ve surely used him, too.

Even with Giannis Antetokounmpo dealing with injury, nobody could’ve foreseen Miami’s 3-1 series win over the Milwaukee Bucks. Milwaukee had two ridiculous late-game collapses in the final two games of the series, and Love, among others, witnessed Jimmy Butler’s 56-point eruption to then put the Heat up 3-1.

As for Love, at this point in his playoff career, there’s inherently going to be inconsistencies in his minutes. In Games 2, 3 and 4 of that first round series, he had four, six and then six-point outings.

Although, to his credit, Love had two key games in two of those victories as well, with 18 points and eight rebounds in Game 1, and in Game 5, had 15 points and 12 boards in 32 minutes. In those two 15-plus-point games in that series, Love shot a combined nine-of-18 from three, and as we alluded to, he was a big factor on the glass.

In fairness, Love and the Heat have been carried by the aforementioned Butler in these playoffs, and the Heat shot far better than they did all season in that improbable series win over the Bucks. It’s understandable to be skeptical about them being potentially able to hit nearly as many contested deep balls as they did against the Bucks against the New York Knicks in this next series, for example.

Either way, watching Love get further already in the playoffs than the Cavs with a Heat team that made the postseason via the Play-In Tournament has been so frustrating. Love was clearly a piece Cleveland could’ve used versus the Knicks, and as a player with tons of playoff experience, in particular as well.

He’s going to be in his age-35 season next year, but even with him not being the player he once was before, Love’s on-court presence can still be useful, and given his history with the Wine and Gold, perhaps he and the Cavs could reunite this coming offseason.

Next. 3 biggest takeaways from Cavaliers series loss to Knicks. dark

For now, he and Miami will try to keep this postseason run going against a quality New York team that just handled the Cavs in five games.