Kevin Love was tremendous for the Cleveland Cavaliers in a blowout Game 2 victory over the Toronto Raptors and, as a result, all is right with the world. Prior to that, though, Love garnered plenty of negative sentiment after averaging 10.9 points (and shooting 31.9 percent) in Cleveland’s first eight playoff games. Not even the rational explanation of an injury to his non-shooting hand can keep some of the blow-back away from the five-time NBA All-Star big man.
With that in mind, Cavs swingman J.R. Smith was prompted about Love on Friday. In defending his teammate, Smith likened Love to Chris Bosh in Miami. In Smith’s eyes, Love gets blowback a la Bosh, who famously received criticism while playing alongside LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
“It’s almost like the Chris Bosh syndrome that ‘Bron had in Miami,” Smith said. “When things are going good, we’re going to give the credit to ‘Bron. hen things are going bad, we’re gonna point the finger at the next in line. So that’s just the way it is with playing with him.”
Much in the way that Bosh sacrificed his own stats (particularly of the counting variety) in Miami to become the ultimate, high-end supporting piece, Love’s overall production has waned in Cleveland. Though he was an All-Star this season, Love averaged “only” 17.6 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, improving his three-point accuracy (41.5 percent) but playing fewer minutes with reduced usage.
Smith went on to say that Love is “obviously (Cleveland’s) second option” (a prime difference from Bosh in Miami and even from his Cavs situation prior to Kyrie Irving’s exit). Beyond that, Smith indicated that the Cavs are “damn near impossible to beat” when both Love and James have their A-game working at the same time. Though some of Love’s perceived shortcomings can probably be tied to a variety of maladies throughout the season, it is quite clear that the Cavs are simply a different team when he produces at a high level.
It remains to be seen as to whether the Game 2 version of Love will sustain through the rest of the series (and beyond) but comparisons to Bosh, who remains criminally underrated in some pundit-driven circles, speak quite well of Love. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being compared to Bosh and both players have received a lot more criticism than it is warranted over the years.