The Cleveland Cavaliers, fresh off an overtime loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, play the second half a back-to-back tonight against the Miami Heat. Miami has been off since beating the Oklahoma City Thunder Thursday in one of the most exciting NBA games of the year.
Also, LeBron James used to play for the Heat. Shocking, right?
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Miami Heat
When: 8 p.m.
Where: American Airlines Arena - Miami, Florida
TV: NBA TV
Enemy Blog: Hot Hot Hoops
Music: So Sophisticated - Rick Ross featuring Meek Mill
Keys to the game
- Fun (or not so fun, depending on your perspective): the Cavs have lost nine games in a row in Miami. The last was last year's loss on Christmas Day.
- The Heat are a tricky team to figure out. On paper, they have the makings of a team capable of pushing the Cavs in the East. A core of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic is really good. Add in Hassan Whiteside to protect the rim and other pieces like Justice Winslow and Luol Deng and there's maybe something special there. For the most part, however, the Heat haven't really blown teams away.
- That changed on Thursday. In beating the Thunder behind late free throws from Wade, Miami got a signature win. There are still some issues moving forward - they've played a home-heavy schedule, they're an older team, etc. - but there's a lot to like here.
- Miami, even with Whiteside, has a really interesting small ball lineup. A five-man unit of Dragic, Wade, Winslow, Deng and Whiteside is the Heat's second most used lineup to date even with Deng having missed four straight games with a hamstring injury. This works because A) Deng is really good as a small ball four and B) Whiteside, despite being so big, is mobile enough to play at a faster pace. Most of Miami's other frequently used lineups are traditional two-big lineups but the small ball lineup is an interesting development. It's especially notable because it's strong defensively. Having their two best wing defenders in Winslow and Deng on the floor at the same time is a definite plus and its even better when Whiteside is their as a last line of defense.
- It doesn't show up on their used lineups list, but subbing in Bosh for Whiteside for the small ball lineup would be killer at the end games or to end a half.
- For the Cavs, the result of this game doesn't matter all that much. It's an early season game and one loss here really won't matter much.
- What matters is how the game unfolds. The Cavs looked somewhat lethargic against the Pelicans and really haven't played many games with energy for four quarters. Aside from injuries, energy and effort level have been the Cavs' defining flaws. That's sure to be tested on the second half of a back-to-back against James' former team.
Fear the Sword's Fearless Prediction
The Cavs are coming off an overtime loss and the Heat are rested. It'll probably be close, but this feels like a game the Cavs struggle with. Heat 101, Cavs 97.