That correlation is even more interesting because of all the times he was rumored to be on his way to Boston. “A lot,” he told Heavy Sports last week. “I’ve been traded here a lot.”
But from Minnesota and Cleveland, he is not in Miami, where the Heat are trying to steer out of a skid that has seen them drop two straight after taking a 3-0 lead in these Eastern Conference finals.
Love believes the situation is about the Heat, while making certain to acknowledge the Celtics’ role in all this — much like the Celts giving themselves hell for losing those first three games and always adding credit to Jimmy Butler and Miami for how well they were playing.
“In my eyes, what we see is just our mistakes and us being able to clean that up,” said Love after 116-99 and 110-97 losses. “But, at the same time, they’re a very damn good team, so they force you into a lot of those.
“They’re the team that’s been the aggressor. They have pushed us into some really tight and tough spots, and that is forcing turnovers. That is them getting offensive rebounds. That is them only allowing one shot. So you have to tip your hats to them. They’ve been playing great basketball the last two games.”
Turnovers Key to Heat’s Demise
The Heat turned the ball over 16 times in Game 5, which led to 27 Celtic points. How much of that was on Miami carelessness and how much was on Boston’s swarming defense can be debated.
But Love said Boston’s resiliency shouldn’t be up for question — even after the Heat blew the Celtics out in the third game. Two set points have since been fought off.
“Beating this team four times in a row? C’mon,” Love told Heavy. “I mean, they’re extremely well balanced. They tend to figure things out. They’ve been here before. Maybe not down 3-0 in a series, but they’re certainly battle tested and have guys that have been in the league a long time, that have been together, have continuity.
“So, yeah, we have two more games to get a win, and we have a fight on our hands. They’re playing really fast. When they shoot the 3-ball at a high clip and get the attempts up, they’re a very tough team. In transition, they’re just kicking the ball ahead, getting into the paint and, swing-swing, that 3-ball’s up.
“So we have fight on our hands, like I said. We talked about it after Game 1.”
Said Love then, “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.” And, “We’re going to be in for a dogfight every game.”
More Aggressive Team = ECF Winner
Maybe not in Game 3, but it’s fairly clear the outcome in each of the five games thus far has been determined by the more consistently aggressive team.
“It’s been like that the whole series long, so we need to definitely at the very least meet their physicality and come out with a sense of urgency like they have the last two games,” Love said. “We just need to get back to ourself, and if we do that, we’re going to be in a hell of a fight.
“But I don’t think it’s surprising. We knew they were going to fight.”