It's always a pretty big day when Miami travels to Cleveland, even if the two teams are separated by 40 games in the standings. LeBron James and Chris Bosh are unlikely to play, and Dwyane Wade did not even travel with the team. It's a short-handed squad in Cleveland tonight, giving Coach Scott and the Cavaliers one final chance to win a home game this season.
Who? Miami Heat vs (64-16) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (24-56)
When? 7:00 P.M. Eastern
Where? Quicken Loans Arena -- Cleveland, OH
Where on my eyeballs? Fox Sports Ohio // NBA League Pass
Tickets? Cleveland Cavaliers' tickets
Inspirational Clip Featuring Former President Reagan to Save Coach Scott's Job?
Reagan as George Gipp.mp4 (via rajahaan)
So What Is Really Happening With Coach Scott's Job Status? Well, we don't really know yet. The Plain Dealer seems to think it's uncertain, Bob Finnan of the News-Herald says it's on shaky ground, and Kyrie Irving refuses to discuss it. So basically we're completely in wait-and-see mode. Having said that, I'm sure a victory tonight would go a long way towards helping Dan Gilbert make a decision. A win on Fan Appreciation Night against the Miami Heat? That would be a big one for the team moving forward, even if they're 13 games out of the playoffs with two games to go. Personally, I'd keep him and give him the beginning of next season to see what he can do with some new pieces on the roster. If it's still not working out after fifteen games next year, let him go then.
Who the Hell Is Going To Play For Miami Tonight? Along with the uncertainty that surrounds James' and Bosh's status for the night, Shane Battier and Udonis Haslem didn't travel with the team either. Basically, we're looking at a starting line up of Mario Chalmers-Ray Allen-James Jones-Rashard Lewis-Joel Anthony for the Heat if James and Bosh don't play. That lineup could actually be somewhat dangerous against the Cavs though, who have struggled against spot-up shooters all year. They'll need to stay focused on D and especially be sure to close out on corner threes, which are the bread-and-butter of this Heat lineup.
What Can We Get Excited About As Far As The Cavs Are Concerned? Well, Tristan Thompson certainly hasn't given up on this season. He's averaged 17 points and 12 rebounds over the course of his last six games, and really seems to be turning the corner offensively. Thompson's becoming slightly more efficient, and infinitely more versatile as he continues to work at his game. Kyrie Irving should be in the lineup tonight too, which is always exciting. I've been a pretty big proponent of him -- along with Dion Waiters, who is clearly still not right yet -- sitting the rest of the season because these games don't mean anything. However, with this being Fan Appreciation Night, there's no better way to show the fans that the future is bright than with a virtuoso 25-10 performance from the game's best young point guard.
-I feel bad saying it because he works his ass off every night, but someone needs to: Alonzo Gee has been pretty much awful for the last month and a half. Shooting 38% on nearly 10 shots a night isn't going to get the job done from the small forward position. Hopefully, the Cavs do something before the start of next season to put Gee in a more proper role than his one as the starting small forward now.
-Marreese Speights has cooled down a tick since his torrid start to his Cavaliers' career. However, he's still averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds per-36 minutes since he's been added to the roster. I'll be interested to see what he does with his player option going into next season. I was convinced earlier in the season that he'd probably go to free agency (and I'm still leaning that way), but it's not nearly as cut and dry as it was.
-Omri Casspi kind of hasn't been a disaster in the past few games that he's gotten minutes. I don't really have anything to say other than that.
Fear The Sword's Fearless Prediction
The Cavs come out and play hard in the first half, but fade in the second half. Surprise, surprise. Eventually, the corner threes and well-oiled machine that is Erik Spoelstra's offense comes through and defeats the Cavaliers 103-97. Irving shows out a little bit though, and scores 27 points and dishes off 8 assists, that way the fans don't go home too unhappy.