No one will ever accuse Marcus Morris of being soft. So, when he was asked about Kevin Love’s performance during Game 1 of the Cavaliers-Pistons series, the Detroit forward gave a response typical of his personality.
Love, who is always under the spotlight in Cleveland, went for 28 points and knocked in four threes during Game 1. Plenty of those looks were open, too. Detroit simply didn’t have an answer for him.
Come Game 2 on Wednesday, Morris says it will, via David Mayo of MLive.com:
Asked how the Pistons would deal with Love as the best-of-seven series continues, Morris replied, “Maybe rough him up a little bit.”
“He had a good game the first game,” Morris said. “We definitely took it a little disrespectful. So I think we’re definitely going to push up a little harder on him, maybe foul him a little harder, things like that.”
“I think he was just too comfortable,” Morris said. “His confidence was too high. We’ve definitely got to get him out of that rhythm early.”
Love has become more of a perimeter dweller ever since arriving in Cleveland at the start of the 2014-15 season, but don’t underestimate his ability to get physical as well. Back in his Minnesota days, especially early in them, he’d hang around the paint a whole bunch.
He’d bang. He’d post up. He was — and still remains — one of the NBA’s best rebounders. You don’t get to that point without dealing with physical play, especially given Love’s box-out heavy boarding style.
Love hasn’t played down low nearly as much in Cleveland, partly because if he spreads to the outside, it allows more room for LeBron James and Kyrie Irving to drive to the hoop. But he can still maintain a physical game.
Maybe Morris is right. Maybe “roughing” Love up a little more won’t hurt. Maybe it’ll entice him to shoot fewer threes.
But you have to actually guard him to get in his face. You have to make sure that — unlike in Game 1, when Love attempted 13 uncontested field goals — you combine hard individual defense with productive team D. Being physical for physicality’s sake rarely works against someone of Love’s caliber and mentality.