Many will credit Jimmy Butler for getting Miami into the Finals but Heat forward Duncan Robinson thinks his team wouldn’t have made it there without Kevin Love.
Love joined Miami from Cleveland mid-season and it was a smart move to pick up a 15-season veteran with a championship under his belt.
Not to mention, he has reached the Finals every time he has appeared in the playoffs now (five times).
And although Love hasn’t played huge minutes since joining the team, his experience and personality helped to turn Miami’s season around, Robinson explains.
“Kevin coming, I think he totally changed the whole dynamic of our locker room,” Robinson said on The Old Man and The Three. “Just his character, his levity. What he brought in terms of just connecting people, having a sense of humor.
“You know when you have a guy who’s played in four NBA Finals, won a championship, get pulled from a rotation in the middle of a series. And his immediate reaction is uplifting the guy that’s replacing him. I mean, that alone set the tone down the line for everybody else. It’s stuff like that that doesn’t get recognized and talked about enough.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra decided to take Love out for Game’s 6 and 7 against Boston but his impact and mentorship was clearly still felt.
Love himself was gracious in understanding the change as well.
“It made perfect sense to me, honestly,” Love told the Sun Sentinel. “I obviously was eager and wanted to play, kept myself ready. At the same time, those matchups, how they took [Robert] Williams out of the starting lineup, decided to go small, that’s how kind of it plays into matchups, that’s how it works within the playoffs.”
Spoelstra kept Love out of the lineup for Game 1 against the Nuggets too, as his playing style didn’t seem to fit with the zone approach when Nikola Jokic goes out.
However, Denver have a size advantage on almost every spot on the floor, so starting Love for those first few minutes of Game 2 could be an advantage.
Max Strus went 0-10 in Game 1 and Caleb Martin started, which weakened Miami’s bench rotation.
So, if Martin was to go back the bench or switch to the guard position, it would allow Love to come into play.
Because the Heat certainly need all the reinforcements they can get against a white-hot Denver team.