These Cavaliers might not be quite so bad, huh? They’ve rattled off eight straight wins and completely demolished the up-and-coming 76ers on the road on Monday night. On Tuesday, they host the Miami Heat on the second half of a back-to-back.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers (13-7) vs. Miami Heat (10-9)
When: 7 p.m. ET
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
Enemy Blog: Hot Hot Hoops
TV: Fox Sports Ohio, NBA TV
Online: Fox Sports GO
Cavs injuries: Isaiah Thomas (OUT - hip), Tristan Thompson (OUT - calf), Derrick Rose (OUT, away from team/ankle injury)
Heat injuries: Whiteside (PROBABLE - knee injury), Rodney McGruder (OUT - stress fracture), Okaro White (OUT - foot)
Three keys to the game:
- Will the light workload the Cavaliers got last night in Philly help them have energy in this game against Miami? They historically have been awful on back-to-backs, coming out flat and rarely putting in great energy. LeBron only played 31 minutes last night, though, leading the team in minutes. They should be as well rested as possible, but it’s still possible they don’t come out with the best energy.
- Miami has been brutal at times this year, but they’re currently playing their best basketball of the season. They’ve won four of their past five games, with wins against Washington, Boston and Minnesota. The Cavs will need to do their best to prevent the pick and roll combo of Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside from killing them. The Heat will smartly attack the two worst defenders in the Cavs starting lineup in Jose Calderon and Kevin Love; they’ll have to survive when tested.
- Will the bench continue to destroy opposing second-units? The Heat have some solid depth with Tyler Johnson, James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk all coming off the bench. Cavs starters have primarily been playing opponents to a draw, while the second-units without LeBron are currently outscoring opponents by 5.0 points per 100 possessions.
Jose Calderon’s going to have to do work against the crafty Dragic. It’s not a fair ask, but Calderon’s been much better on defense than he has any right to be in stretches this season. If the Cavs can harass Dragic into an inefficient game, they’ll have a great chance to win this game.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction
The Heat are finding their way after a disastrous start to the season. The Cavs famously struggle on back-to-backs. The Cavs will find a way to win, but it won’t be pretty. Cavaliers 109, Heat 108.