Having righted the ship by blowing out the hapless Lakers on Sunday, the Cavs now welcome the struggling Heat (losers of 3 of their past 4) to the Q. Dwyane Wade has missed six straight games with a hamstring injury, and while Chris Bosh, Luol Deng and Hassan Whiteside are trying to keep the Heat burning (I'm so sorry, that pun was terrible), Miami is 22-29 and slipping closer and closer to missing the playoffs.
What: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Miami
When: 8:00 P.M. EST
Where: Quicken Loans Arena - Cleveland, Oh
TV Information: ESPN, FSOH
Music: "The Heat is On" by Glenn Frey, in all of its 80's glory.
"Hassanity" is here to stay, it appears. One of the best stories of the NBA season, Hassan Whiteside has been a monster for the Miami Heat. Over one recent six game stretch, he averaged 16 points, 15 rebounds and 4 blocks per game on 61% shooting. He's on pace to finish with one of the best offensive rebounding percentages in recent history. His length, athleticism and hustle on the glass have given some of the best defensive centers in the league problems, including (recently) Tyson Chandler, Joakim Noah and Andre Drummond. The Wolves' Nikola Pekovic, a very good rebounder, was powerless against him - Whiteside pulled down 20 rebounds, including 9 offensive boards, in their matchup last week. Suffice it to say, the battle between Whiteside and Mozgov will be an intriguing one to watch.
Aside from Love versus Bosh, which ought to be another fun matchup to watch, Cleveland holds significant matchup advantages at every other position. Kyrie versus Shabazz Napier, J.R. versus Mario Chalmers, LeBron versus Luol Deng - the Cavs should be able to exploit the Heat at both guard spots and along the wing.
The other problem for the Heat has been their bench. Norris Cole, Udonis Haslem, Shawne Williams, James Ennis - all have struggled this year, especially defensively. Tristan Thompson, Shawn Marion, and maybe even Delly should flourish when the starters come off the floor.
FEAR THE SWORD FEARLESS PREDICTION:
Cavaliers 115, Heat 102.
The Cavaliers close the season's first "half" with a back to back, playing the only game on the NBA schedule tomorrow night in Chicago. Hopefully, All-Star-Break-Itis hasn't set in; if the Cavs sweep both ends of the set and the Wizards fall to the Raptors tonight (in Toronto)... they will be third in the Eastern Conference standings, all by their lonesome, with only #WeTheNorth and #AtlShawty ahead of them.
It's been a pretty good month for the wine and gold, hasn't it?
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