Kevin Love reflects on 2016 NBA Finals with Cavs, sends message that Heat aren’t dead yet

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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Love made unlikely NBA Finals history once before with the Cleveland Cavaliers and believes it can repeat itself, with his Miami Heat in need of an incredible comeback to win this season’s championship.

“We know that anything can happen, has been done before, in a conference final and finals,” Love said of overcoming a 3-1 series deficit. “I have been a part of that. You really just have to take it one possession at a time. Forget the game. It’s just one possession, one quarter, half to half, and just get it done by any means necessary, and we’ll figure the rest out.”

Love’s 2016 Cavs still stand as the only team in NBA history to win the Finals after trailing the best-of-seven series 3-1. NBA teams have a series record of 1-35 in the Finals when facing that obstacle.

Miami became the 37th team to trail 3-1 in the Finals when it lost to the Denver Nuggets 108-95 at home on Friday. The Heat will try to start a comeback for the ages in Game 5 on Monday at Denver.

Miami almost found itself on the wrong side of history in the Eastern Conference Finals. After the Heat won the first three games, they lost the next three to the Boston Celtics and had to win Game 7 to avoid becoming the first NBA team to lose a best-of-seven series after taking a 3-0 lead. Miami survived 103-84 in Game 7 to advance to the Finals.

Back in the 2016 Finals, the Golden State Warriors, trying to win back-to-back titles, built a 3-1 lead over the Cavaliers, who were led by LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.

With Warriors forward Draymond Green suspended for Game 5 of that series, James and Irving each scored 41 points en route to a win. Cleveland won Game 6 at home, then went back to Golden State and took Game 7. Love made a memorable defensive play against Stephen Curry in the closing moments of that deciding game.

The 34-year-old has played in three of four games during these Finals and contributed 12 points while playing a shade over 18 minutes in Game 4.

The task the Heat are facing against the Nuggets seems almost as daunting as what the Cavs faced against the Warriors, who went on to defeat Cleveland in the NBA Finals in both 2017 and 2018.

With Nuggets star Nikola Jokic showing incredible versatility, Jamal Murray excelling as a dangerous running mate and contributions coming from up and down the roster, Denver looks poised to win its first NBA title in franchise history.

But if anyone knows how to historically derail a team that seems destined for a championship, it’s Love.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. One of his favorite sports memories is the Cavaliers-Nets playoff series from 1993.