The first half of the home at home between the Cavaliers and Heat was... underwhelming. For those wondering if the Cavs could get over either issues of playing without LeBron James by sitting Kyrie Irving, I think it’s safe to cross that off the idea board. Now with James and Irving back in the lineup, the team has an opportunity to hurt Miami’s hopes at a playoff berth.
Who? Miami Heat (29-34) at Cleveland Cavaliers (42-19)
Where? Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio
Where on my eyeballs? Fox Sports Ohio, NBA TV
This matchup obviously will bring a lot of attention and hype as a result of Andrew Bogut making his debut with the team. The Cavs also will get the chance to host Dion Waiters, who has cooled off lately averaging just 12 points per game over his last five games. Even with Waiters cooling off, the Heat have still managed to maintain team success. The Heat have won five of their last seven games and are just a game and a half back of a playoff spot. While the Cavs gifted them the game in Miami, a potential sweep of the home and home would be a huge win for the Heat.
For the Cavs, this game will likely be another game of experimenting. Deron Williams has gave Tyronn Lue flexibility and versatility. Lineups with Williams, Irving, and James have been very effective so far. Now they will also try to integrate Bogut into the lineup on the go. In the not too distant future the team will also be adding J.R. Smith, and will need to experiment even more. So far the integrating of new pieces has gone very smoothly, which is a testament to how good of a job Lue has done. As well as how easy LeBron makes things for role players.
While the Cavs have more talent than the Heat, they still cannot take them lightly. Miami has been one of the biggest surprises in the league during the second half of the season and have multiple quality wins as a result of being well coached and well prepared. So limiting turnovers and executing the offense will be essential if the Cavs don’t want to make this game unnecessarily difficult.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction:
With James and Irving in the lineup, the Heat really don’t have many options to slow them down. Thompson and Bogut should do a good job limiting the impact of Hassan Whiteside, and as long as the Cavs don’t go uncharacteristically cold from the outside it should be a relatively easy win. Cavs win 112-101.