The Cleveland Cavaliers will play their home opener tonight! After a tough road back-to-back against the Chicago Bulls and Memphis Grizzlies to begin the season, the Cavs will be returning to the friendly confines of Quicken Loans Arena for the first time since their Game 6 loss to the Golden State Warriors in June. Their opponent will be the Miami Heat, who are 1-0 on the season after beating the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday. They are indeed a basketball team, and the Cavs will play them. That's about all that I can say is interesting about this matchup from a storyline perspective.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Miami Heat
When: 7:00 p.m.
Where: Quicken Loans Arena - Cleveland, OH
Is it on TV?: For some reason this perfectly mundane NBA affair will be on ESPN, who just wants to show the Cavs more, probably.
Enemy Blog: Hot Hot Hoops
SO HOT IN
The Heat should be a much improved team this year compared to last, when they took a huge step back in the win column due to injuries and employing Michael Beasley, and definitely only those two things. Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts, and Dwyane Wade should be healthy again, they have Goran Dragic for an entire season, and Justise Winslow looked very, very good in his first NBA contest Wednesday. Meanwhile, after the Cavs lost their first game against the Bulls Tuesday, they went full murder death machine on the Grizzlies on Wednesday, a result much more in line with what we should expect from the team this season. Should be a very fun matchup. If only there were some interesting story line to put this game over the top.
What to watch for
- Bosh vs. Timofey Mozgov is the biggest battle of the night for the Cavs, without question. Bosh is probably the only center in the league with the combination of speed, shooting ability, defensive awareness, and basketball IQ of his caliber in the league. He presents a huge issue for Mozgov, who isn't well equipped to handle chasing around Bosh on the perimeter, and if he's doing that, that opens things up in the middle for Hassan Whiteside to work in the PNR and the Heat's excellent penetrating guards to get to the rim. The obvious answer might be letting Mozgov tangle with Whiteside and concentrating Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao on Bosh, but what do you do in the Mozgov/Love pairing, then? This feels like one of those games where Love or Mozgov just goes away for much of the game, and we get heavy doses of the Tristan/Bosh and Tristan/Whiteside matchups, which are going to be very fun.
- Can the Cavs contain both Dragic and Wade? Matthew Dellavedova can't guard both, which means we either set Mo Williams up to get beat off the dribble constantly, or gamble on J.R. Smith being locked in enough to consistently keep Wade out of the lane. And that assumes Delly can comfortably take on one of them. I'd expect the Cavs to switch a lot on the perimeter to try to contain penetration from these two. Hopefully they can do that without getting burned by Whiteside rolls to the rim and Gerald Green and Luol Deng getting loose on cuts.
- But it's not like the Heat are totally a bad matchup for the Cavs, either. The Heat have no depth in the frontcourt, and Kevin Love should definitely be getting time when Bosh sits against potential Whiteside/Chris Andersen and Whiteside/Udonis Haslem units. We will have LeBron James being guarded by Winslow, who's 6'4" without shoes and playing in his second NBA game. The Cavs might not do the best job against penetration, but the Heat guards aren't exactly good at it themselves, meaning Mo Williams is going to get looks. And then there's the J.R. Smith/Gerald Green matchup, which is about the only one in the league I completely, without a doubt trust J.R. to do better with.
- There's going to be a lot of points, is what I'm saying.
- How does the player playing against his former team do? After all, Luol Deng was the heart and soul of that 2013-2014 Cavs team, and it's always interesting to see him get up for playing the team he couldn't wait to leave behind.