The Cleveland Cavaliers put up their worst effort of the 2023-24 season when they got ripped to shreds by the Miami Heat on Sunday night, 121-84. Thankfully, the Cavs did not have much time to lick their wounds, as the schedule didn’t leave much time for them to dwell on their defeat as they entered the second night of a back-to-back ready to get back to winning ways against the soul-searching Charlotte Hornets.

On Monday, the Cavs looked like a much different team; they handily took care of business against an overmatched Hornets team, 115-92, and it might have been due to the fire veteran forward Marcus Morris Sr. lit underneath the whole team when he played with much physicality, even warranting an ejection from the officials for a hard foul against Nick Richards.

Nonetheless, the veteran forward whom the Cavs picked up off the buyout market contended that he wasn’t trying to hurt Richards at all. Rather, he was just trying to come in and set the tone defensively.

“I just wanted to be physical,” Morris said, per Tony Withers of ABC News/AP. “Like I told the player (Richards), I wasn’t trying to hurt him. I’m just trying to set the tone, man. You’re rolling down the paint, catching lobs and we’re trying to stop that type of (stuff).”

“I wanted to play the game, I didn’t want to get thrown out, but I definitely wanted to put a little lick on him. I was happy the way we responded.”

Marcus Morris Sr. establishes the standard

With the playoffs beckoning, Marcus Morris Sr. wants the Cavs to know what it would take for them to overcome the obstacles that lie ahead.

“There’s been a lot of grueling games and I was just wanted to toughen us up. Step in front of it like, listen this is what’s going to be expected moving forward, not just for today. Set the precedent going into the playoffs. We’re not about to have anybody coming in here and doing what they want to do,” Morris added.

The Cavs are currently shorthanded, although they recently got Evan Mobley back in the lineup. Mobley should help with what Morris wants the Cavs to establish — a gritty defensive identity that would help them avoid the mistakes they made in their first-round playoff exit last season.

Moving forward, hopefully Morris can do his job for the Cavs as an enforcer without costing his team on the court with some technical free throws or by leaving them one capable rotation player short.

Cavs bringing out the best in Mook

Marcus Morris Sr.’s stock has fallen precipitously in recent years; now 34 years old, Morris has lost a step or two on defense, and the lift on his jumpshot isn’t quite what it used to be. Thus, it wasn’t at all surprising when the Los Angeles Clippers and later on, the Philadelphia 76ers, gave up on him.

The Cavs then picked him up amid injury woes to their key players, and Morris, at the very least, was a battle-tested veteran who can shoot and provide bit of an edge to the team. Morris appears to be making the most of his new opportunity, earning JB Bickerstaff’s trust with his toughness. It remains to be seen if he can make the playoff rotation, but it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise if he did.