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Final Score: Cleveland Cavaliers defeat Miami Heat 108-97

The Cavs were hotter than the Heat on the second night of a back to back.

NBA: Miami Heat at Cleveland Cavaliers David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

There was a time where the Cleveland Cavaliers would not show up for a game like this. On the second night of a back to back against a fringe playoff team, typically the oldest team in the league would take the night off and hope they can hang around long enough to steal this one at the end. But enough about two weeks ago, the Cavs extended their winning streak to nine games with a 108-97 win over the Miami Heat.

It didn’t take long for the story of the night to materialize, as Kevin Love came out as a man possessed to start the game. After being beat on the defensive glass on two early possessions by Hassan Whiteside, Love began his evisceration of the Heat defense. He moved aggressively off the ball and was rewarded with rhythm jumpers. He scored 22 points in the first quarter, and finished with 38 points for the game.

After just four minutes, Love had proved that sometimes offense can be the best defense. His activity and outside shooting made it impossible for the Heat to keep Whiteside on the floor. Miami sat Whiteside after four minutes, negating their advantage on the interior. While Whiteside did return late in the second, by that point the Cavs had a comfortable lead.

While Love was turning heads, LeBron James flew under the radar with an fantastic first half. He had 16 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals through two quarters on 8-11 shooting.

The Cavs mostly coasted throughout the rest of the game, despite a few small pushes from the Heat. Love appeared to hurt his left wrist midway through the third, although he did stay in the game for a few more possessions. With the team comfortably in the lead, he remained on the bench for the rest of the leaving.

After a strange ejection ended LeBron’s evening prematurely, the stage was set for Dwyane Wade to bury his former team. The difference Wade has made for the Cavs since going to the bench is hard to overstate. They play with a tremendous amount of energy and he has been the steady hand needed to make it all work. With LeBron and Love both out, the Cavs didn’t miss a step as they closed out the game.

Game Notes:

  • LeBron received his first career ejection as a result of a quick double technical from referee Kane Fitzgerald. I am sure we will hear a lot about this before the night is over.
  • This was yet another night where Jae Crowder was invisible on the offensive end. Unless he breaks out of this funk, it’s hard to not label him as a placeholder in the starting lineup along with Jose Calderon for when Tristan Thompson and Isaiah Thomas return.
  • For how convincing of a win this was, the Cavs really didn’t receive a lot of help from their supporting cast. Only Love, James, Wade, Korver and Smith were in double digits. Plus it wasn’t a particularly great shooting night for Korver or Smith, as they shot 5-16 from behind the arc. The Cavs improved defense has considerably improved their margin for error.