How Would San Antonio Spurs Handle Kevin Love?

By Erik Lambert

Jan 12, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love (42) takes a shot over San Antonio Spurs forward Boris Diaw (33) during the second half at AT&T Center. The Spurs won 104-86. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

If Kevin Love goes to Cleveland as expected, it certainly will interest the San Antonio Spurs who could see the Cavs in the Finals.  What does history say?

Numbers show Gregg Popovich and Spurs can manage Love

There is no questioning the ability of Kevin Love as a player.  He is an elite rebounder and scorer in the NBA as evidenced by his 26 points and 12 rebounds average in 2013-2014.  For San Antonio, the question is would they be able to handle him in a potential Finals meeting?  According to recent stat history, the answer is favorable.

Over the past three seasons Love has played the San Antonio Spurs six times.  In that span he was held under 20 points in four of those games and the two where he scored more than 20 were both losses, perhaps a testament to the doubts surrounding his ability to defend.  If anything else it is clear validation that Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich is a master game planner, always finding ways to minimize the effectiveness of top players.

Chris Bosh provides example of how Spurs can combat LeBron James angle

Naturally the counterpoint will be that Kevin Love would be playing on the court with LeBron James, a entirely different animal than what he’s had to work with in Minnesota.  At the same time this isn’t anything new the San Antonio Spurs players haven’t seen.  After all, James had an All-Star power forward playing with him in Miami in Chris Bosh.  During the playoffs, he averaged 15 points and nearly six rebounds per game through the first three series.  Yet when he went up against the Spurs, his effectiveness diminished considerably, dropping to 14 points per game and five rebounds.  By limiting his impact, they then forced James to become the aggressor in order to score, something he doesn’t like to do.

It is that kind of team play that will assist San Antonio in a possible matchup with Kevin Love and Cleveland next June.