NBA Basketball

Love, Cavs look to contain Pistons' frontcourt duo

Kevin Love knows the Cleveland Cavaliers have to do a much better job containing the Detroit Pistons' frontcourt duo of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond.

The Cleveland Cavaliers will try to avert getting swept in the four-game season series when they host the Pistons on Monday.

Griffin is averaging 20.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists against the Cavaliers this season, while Drummond has posted averages of 20.7 points, 16.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in those games.

Their averages would be even higher if both hadn't sat out of the fourth quarter of the last meeting, a 129-93 blowout on the Cavaliers' home floor March 2. Love, the Cavs' top player, sat out that game.

"Got to keep those two monsters off the glass, keep them as far away from the basket as we can," he said. "We need that communication, and we need to play extremely physical against them, because that's how they play."

Cleveland (17-53) has dropped three straight, including a 121-116 road loss to Dallas on Saturday. That allowed the Mavericks, who shot 51.1 percent, to snap a seven-game losing streak.

"We have so many no-pass or one-pass shots. I think our ball movement and our energy is huge for us," Love said. "But on top of that, we've got to get stops. I think we took a huge step back defensively. When we're not scoring that ball, it's almost like we've giving up on the defensive end."

Dallas scored 66 first-half points and led by as much as 21 in the second quarter before Cleveland staged a belated rally.

"We kept pushing the ball, gave ourselves a chance," said Love, who had 22 points, 12 rebounds and four assists. "But we just got down too early, and that was just too much of a cushion for them."

Rookie point guard Collin Sexton is finishing the season strong. The lottery pick is averaging 26.4 points and 3.3 assists in the past five games. He had 28 points, four assists and no turnovers in 38 minutes against the Mavericks.

The Pistons (36-33) have won two straight and will be kicking off a five-game road trip, with the final four out west. They defeated Toronto 110-107 on Sunday behind Griffin's 25 points. Drummond was also solid with 15 points and 17 rebounds.

The Raptors have the second-best record in the Eastern Conference, but Detroit swept the three-game season series. Now, the Pistons can't afford a letdown against one of the league's weakest clubs.

"We've done a good job of stepping up to the challenge but wins are wins," Griffin said. "If you don't face a team in the playoffs, it's just experience. They're a good team, have a lot of great players and we've done a good job against them."

Coach Dwane Casey had a similar message.

"It was huge, just our composure and mental toughness that you have to have, but we can't just have it tonight," he said. "We can't get excited just for the night. Our whole thing is being consistent, whether it's Brooklyn, Miami, Toronto or Cleveland. Whoever it is, that's the approach we've got to have."

--Field Level Media

Updated March 18, 2019

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