Heat’s Kevin Love Stunned by His Own Celtics History: ‘W-o-o-o-o-w’

The Miami Heat's Kevin Love is facing the Celtics yet again in the NBA playoffs.

Getty The Miami Heat's Kevin Love is facing the Celtics yet again in the NBA playoffs.

BOSTON — Kevin Love was sitting in the Heat dressing room at TD Garden late Wednesday night after a playoff game, and it felt familiar to him. Damn familiar.

He was just searching for the number this one constituted on his list of Celtic duels, when asked by Heavy Sports.

“Oh, man, shoot. Technically I played four in ’15,” he said, referencing an appearance in Game 4 of the Cavaliers’ sweep of the C’s cut short because of a dislocated shoulder. “I know we played them in ’17 and ’18…”

Told it was his 17th postseason game against Boston (though he was inactive for one in 1028 due to injury), Love leaned back and said, “W-o-o-o-o-w.”

“And that last year in 2018 we went to seven games, and it came down to really the last minute, so there’ve been a lot of hard fought battles here and really lengthy series, as well, if you take away 2015, which was a super young team,” he said. “We just had a lot more experience.”

And, uh, LeBron James.

Kevin Love on Celtics: ‘We Respect the Hell Out of Them’

Turning to the present, Love said of the Celts, “This is a very good team, a very good culture. I mean, we really respect the hell out of them. They’ve really got something special over there, a deep team, very well balanced, guys that were on All-Defense.

“Al Horford, who’s had an unbelievable career, just holds it down at the power forward/center position. Marcus Smart won Defensive Player of the Year last year. You’ve got two superstar guys in (Jayson) Tatum and (Jaylen) Brown. I mean, just really the entire lineup.”

That’s why Miami was underdog in its 123-116 Game 1 victory and while it will almost certainly continue to be on that side of the odds line as long as this Eastern Conference finals series lasts.

In terms of pure results, the numbers look very good for Love, whose teams are now 13-4 against Boston in the playoffs, getting the aforementioned sweep in 2015, a five-game win in the 2017 conference finale and a Game 7 win on the Celts’ home floor in the same series the next year (though Love missed that last outing with a concussion after bumping noggins with Tatum in Game 6).

Signing him this past February after he was bought out by the Cavs is helping the Heat ward off Celtic spirits. He had an efficient 8 points on 3-4 shooting with 6 rebounds in 16 minutes Wednesday.

Just as he was a piece of the puzzle in support of LeBron in Cleveland, he is playing hard and spacing the floor for Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo with Miami.

And in his 15th season, he’s got enough veteran wisdom and simple hoop knowledge to know the Celtics aren’t going away after one disappointing defeat.

“We just stay together, man. We feel like if we play extremely hard and we stay to our principles that we can beat anybody and we’re a tough out,” Love told Heavy. “But we understand that they had the best net rating all year and played phenomenal all year for a reason — because they’re a very good team. We just feel like we got one, took care of business, did what we needed to do, and we’ve got to reset the deck.”

No. 8 Seed Heat Have Little to Lose

Though the Heat are stating their prospects with all due confidence, it is true, as well, they have the benefit of essentially playing with house money. This is a team that lost its first play-in game at home to Atlanta and needed to beat Chicago just to secure the No. 8 seed. But they staggered Milwaukee in the first round and took out New York in the second, with no expectations but their own.

“That’s what we do. We play loose,” said Love. “Nothing is too bright, nothing is too much for guys. We’re going to win or lose by being ourselves. I think that’s just kind of the ethos and just like who we are as a group. We all have respect and confidence in one another. We just go out there and play.

“We play free, but I think in the second half (of Game 1) we also played smarter. I think in the first half we had 10 or 11 turnovers (11), and we’re looking around like, guys, that’s not us. We definitely tightened up (just four after the break). We felt like we played our game in the second half.”

And the Celtics once again got flustered.

“We know in Game 2 that’s probably not going to happen,” said Love. “We’re going to be in for a dogfight every game.”

And he’s been in a lot of them against this franchise.


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