Kevin Love Faces Unsettling Transition to New Cavs Role, Says Chris Bosh

Ethan Skolnick@@EthanJSkolnickNBA Senior WriterOctober 9, 2014

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RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL  Chris Bosh and Kevin Love are in the same city this week, staying only about four kilometers away from each other, in advance of Saturday's preseason game between the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers.

But, in basketball terms, they are now worlds apart.   

They've essentially switched places, with only Love changing his permanent address.

Bosh has now gone from a third—or second, depending on Dwyane Wade's statusoption on the Heat to the team's first in the absence of LeBron James.

And Love, it is safe to assume, will become the second or third option on the Cavaliers, behind James and Kyrie Irving, after spending most of the past six seasons as the Minnesota Timberwolves' go-to guy. 

Love is certainly aware of the difference. At Cavaliers media day on Sept. 26, he quipped that he'd been "fortunate and unfortunate" enough to watch the playoffs for the past six years, to watch Bosh, Wade and several San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks make sacrifices for the betterment of the group.    

"I'd be lying to myself and lying to everybody here if I was telling you I didn't have to sacrifice," Love said. "I think it's going to have to be an effort throughout the entire team to do what's best for the Cleveland Cavaliers. And we don't know what that is really yet. But I'm going to do what’s best for this team to win, because at the end of the day that’s what we want, is to win."

Everyone does. 

But what are the challenges?

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 23:  ;(L-R) Chris Bosh #1 and LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida on Jan. 23, 2014. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by
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Specifically, is it more difficult to go from a first option to a second or third choiceas Love must do now—or from a second or third option to a first? 

On these topics, Bosh was uniquely qualified to answer, having gone from first option in Toronto to third choice for four years in Miami to, now, first option in Miami.

"Yeah, it's a lot more difficult taking a step back, because you're used to doing something a certain way and getting looks a certain way," Bosh told Bleacher Report recently. "And then it's like, well, no, for the benefit of the team, you have to get it here.

"So even if you do like the left block, the volume of the left block is going to be different. Now you have to make those moves count. So with me, it was like a chess game. I'm doing this move and thinking about the next move and trying to stay five moves ahead. You're not getting it as much. If you got one or two a game, it's a lot different."

You don't get your pick of the buffet.

"Exactly," Bosh said. "You just get your entree and that's it. It's like, wait a minute, I need my appetizer and my dessert and my drink, what are you doing? And my bread basket. What is going on? I'm hungry! It’s a lot different. But if you can get through it, good things can happen. But it never gets easy. Even up until my last year of doing it, it never gets easier."

Nor does the constant din of hearing from family, friends and media about why you aren't doing everything you once did.

Alan Diaz/Associated Press

"Exactly," Bosh said. "'You've got to do this! You've got to do that!' So you've got to fight that. 'Why don’t you do this? Well, you should do this!' It's like, man, they don't need me to do that, I know what I'm doing. 'Well, you should do this.' And then eventually, on one of those days, all it takes is one time, well, maybe I should be doing this. It's such a psychological battle."

Love, at age 25, averaged 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds his final season in Minnesota. Bosh, at age 25, averaged 24.0 points and 10.8 his final season in Toronto. His averages declined in the four years since, as he reached greater heights (four NBA Finals, two championships) playing with James.

"It's going to be very difficult for him," Bosh said of Love's new task. "Even if I was in his corner and I was able to tell him what to expect and what to do, it still doesn't make any difference. You still have to go through things, you still have to figure out things on your own. It's extremely difficult and extremely frustrating. He's going to have to deal with that."

Bosh noted Love's previously high allotment of touches down low, where "he's very, very good at using his body to get his shots off and stuff like that. Like I said before, [in Minnesota] he was able to play that game and set guys up. Now, it's like, man, do I go to my move? He's going to have to fight a lot of his instincts." 

As Bosh fights others in Miami. 

He had a tendency to drift outside as James and Wade worked the inside. 

Now, as the roles of Bosh and Love invert, could their statistics reverse? 

J Pat Carter/Associated Press

"They might," Bosh said. "In order for us to be successful, I'm going to have to turn up my numbers a lot. In order for them to be successful, he's got to shave them down. And that's not always the easiest thing to do.

"Everybody says they want to win. But when you start talking about sacrifice and doing what's right for the team, it's like, 'Wait a minute, I didn't mean that. I want to win, but...' There's always a conjunction with that. It's never what you think it is. And it's always like your weakest point where you got to do it." 

Bosh might not share that directly with Love.

But it's clear that he will be interested in seeing how it plays out. 

Ethan Skolnick covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter,@EthanJSkolnick.


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