As the end of the regular season approaches, the Cleveland Cavaliers take their talent for confounding losses to South Beath to take on the Miami Heat. The Cavs could have locked up the number one seed over the weekend with a sweep of the Atlanta Hawk. Instead, the team found a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Now the Cavaliers are tied with the Boston Celtics for the top seed in the conference. While the Cavs possess the tie-breaker, how things will unfold remains unclear. They may choose to rest their starters for the second time in Miami this season. Even if they do that, the Final game of the season against Toronto will likely be nothing short of a gong show. The Cavs typically never play their starters in the final game of the regular season, while the Raptors want to avoid the Cavs for as long as possible come playoffs.
If the Cavs don’t rest against the Heat, they will need to match the Celtics win for win down the stretch. With Boston playing the Brooklyn Nets, then hosting the Milwaukee Bucks for the season’s final game, it’s very possible that the Cavs will need to win out and abandon all plans to rest if they want the top seed. Personally I think the team clearly doesn’t deserve it, and should prioritize rest. But what they should do and what they will do are likely two very different things.
Who? Cleveland Cavaliers (51-29) at Miami Heat (39-41)
When? 7:30 PM
Where? American Airlines Arena, Miami, Florida
Where on my eyeballs?
You’re really going to do this to yourself? Fox Sports Ohio
Regardless of who the Cavs play Monday night, they will face their greatest fear at this time of year... a team that cares. The Heat will be fighting for their playoff lives Monday night, as they currently are out of the playoff picture. Miami needs to win out to have a shot at making playoffs, as they do not hold the tie-breaker over the Bulls. This will likely be a kitchen sink game for them, as they can play spoiler to LeBron James while also keeping their season alive.
Yesterday afternoon James played 47 minutes, Irving played 45, while Love played 42 minutes. While they did this to themselves, this is not a well rested team. Tyronn Lue has said that he would rest the team once the top seed has been clinched, however that strategy may need to be abandoned after the weekend this team just went through.
You could argue that the big three didn’t truly play that many minutes, with their effort throughout the game’s final stages. But I’m not keen on another heavy minute load against a try-hard Heat team that’s desperate for a win.
Forgive me for my takes, as the air is thin up on my high horse and it impacts my thought process. But the team’s actions over the past weekend indicate that they do not care about the top seed. The top priority now should be rest and the playoffs. They shouldn’t be rewarded with another chance to make-up for their mistakes, especially when we don’t know if they’re even going to put forward effort in the remaining games if they do play. Even if Boston does get the top seed, there’s a realistic chance that the Cavs will still have home-court throughout the playoffs. Rest should be the priority. Even if we see a Cavs/Celtics Eastern Conference Finals, if this team is going to have a chance against the Warriors there’s no way it should come down to a seventh game. That being said, the starters may play 48 minutes tonight.
Fear the Sword’s Frustrated Prediction:
The Cavs rest, the Heat win 107-83.