Kevin Love’s team-first message on getting relegated to bench role for Miami Heat in NBA Playoffs

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Despite being taken out of the starting lineup, Miami Heat veteran Kevin Love is keeping a positive mindset as his team battles for an NBA title.

Love has not played in any of the Heat’s last three postseason contests but is fully aware of why that has happened.

“For me, what I’m doing is just staying ready,” Love said. “Against Boston, them going small, [Heat coach Erik Spoelstra] made the adjustment and the adjustment worked out great. I understand that. Again, it’s just like next-man-up type mentality.

“But certainly, the [Denver] Nuggets are a very big team. You saw it in the first two rounds, how we matched up against both New York and Milwaukee. I think the luxury is I’ll be sitting there waiting. If my number is called, great. If not, I’m going to support these guys the best I can.”

The Heat have chosen to use the taller Cody Zeller instead of Love, though that might have to change for Sunday night’s Game 2 matchup against the Nuggets. That’s because Zeller is dealing with a sprained right foot and his status for the game is questionable.

The 34-year-old Love was signed by the Heat in February after he was bought out of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The veteran started 17 of the 21 regular season contests he played in for the Heat and then saw action in the team’s first 16 postseason clashes.

At least a portion of Love’s value over the course of his career has come as a big man who can hit from beyond the arc. The fact that he’s also averaged a double-double during his time in the NBA might also explain why the Heat wanted him for their postseason push.

Love’s numbers in recent years have dipped, with his struggles to stay healthy playing a part in that issue. Yet, despite such roadblocks, he’s adopted the mentality of a seasoned veteran.

One of those roadblocks he previously struggled with dealt with mental health concerns. Since going public with his own problems in that area, he’s become a vocal advocate for added focus in that important area.

Those past struggles offer a likely explanation as to why Love hasn’t been grumbling about Spoelstra’s changes and has remained ready to go when called. That call may come on Sunday night, with the Heat needing a victory to avoid falling into a 2-0 hole against the favored Nuggets.

Love was part of the 2015-16 Cavaliers team that won the franchise’s only NBA title. In the 2016 NBA Finals, Love’s statistical contributions proved to be less notable than his clutch play in the final minute of Game 7.

That was when his dogged defense of Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry prevented the superstar from getting off a quality shot. Love undoubtedly remembers that moment and is focused on trying to help the Heat win the franchise’s fourth NBA championship.

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Brad Sullivan is a freelance writer for, having been an avid fan of NBA basketball for more than four decades. During that time, he's watched the Heat evolve from gestation period to expansion team all the way to three-time NBA champions. He'll follow their quest toward again reaching those lofty heights, and do so by offering some perspective along the way.