The Cleveland Cavaliers look to end a 20 game road losing streak in South Beach tonight as they take on the Miami Heat. In many ways, the Cavs have tried to emulate Miami’s identity and defensive first mindsight. It should be interesting to see how JB Bickerstaff’s squad handles an older and more experienced version of the team they’re trying to become.
Where: FTX Arena — Miami, Florida
When: 7:40 p.m. EST
TV: Bally Sports Ohio, NBA League Pass, Bally Sports App
Spread: Cavs +7
Opposing blog: Hot Hot Hoops
Expected Cavs starting lineup: Darius Garland / Isaac Okoro / Lauri Markkanen / Evan Mobley / Jarrett Allen
Cavs injury report: Collin Sexton (OUT - meniscus), Cedi Osman (OUT- back spasms), Dean Wade (OUT - calf), Tako Fall (OUT - 2 way), RJ Nembhard Jr. (OUT - 2 way)
Expected Heat starting lineup: Kyle Lowry / Duncan Robinson / Jimmy Butler / PJ Tucker / Dewayne Dedmon
Heat injury report: Jimmy Butler (QUESTIONABLE - tailbone contusion), Bam Adebayo (OUT - thumb), Tyler Herro (PROBABLE - illness), Markieff Morris - (OUT - whiplash), Victor Oladipo (OUT - knee), Dewayne Dedmon (QUESTIONABLE - right knee contusion)
Three things to watch
Can the Cavs close out possessions? Miami is the second-best rebounding team in the league as they are grabbing 52.8% of available rebounds. They’re also the 6th best offensive rebounding team and are retrieving 29.3% of their misses. Conversely, the Cavs are a mediocre rebounding team as they are corralling 72.9% of available defensive rebounds which is good for 18th in the league.
The Cavs have been one of the best defensive teams this season (4th best defensive rating) despite not being a great rebounding team. The Cavs will need to keep Miami off the offensive glass if they want to win this defensive struggle.
Miami’s interior defense. The Cavs dominated the Dallas Mavericks in the paint on Monday night. They racked up 60 points in the paint thanks to a career-high 28 point performance from Jarrett Allen. Cleveland won’t be able to use that same formula on the offensive end tonight.
Miami has the 10th best defense (105.6 defensive rating), but they give up the 2nd fewest points in the paint in the league (40.4 points per game). Opponents are averaging only 23.7 shots within five feet of the rim which is 2nd fewest in the league. On top of that, Miami is forcing 15.6 turnovers a game which is good for the eighth-best.
Miami’s defense is based on getting turnovers and keeping opponents out of the paint. They force teams to shoot over their defense. As a result, opponents are shooting a league-high 41 threes a game against them.
The Cavs haven’t been a great outside shooting team on the season (33.6%), but have shot the ball well of late as they’re shooting 37.1% from distance in their last three games. Cleveland will need that hot shooting to continue tonight.
Bam vs. Mobley. Watching Mobley learn and adjust on a nightly basis has been one of the highlights for the season. It’ll be interesting to see how he handles sharing the floor with Adebayo.
The Cavs have played a tough schedule but Mobley hasn’t had many chances to show what he can do against other premier big men. His only game against an elite big resulted in one of his best offensive games of the season. Mobley finished his matchup against Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers with a team-high 23 points on 10 of 16 shooting.
Adebayo is one of the best bigs in the league and is the anchor for a very good Miami defense which isn’t something you can say about the Lakers' defense. Miami is possibly the most physical team Mobley has faced so far this season. We’ll see how the rookie responds.
Update: Adebyo has been ruled out of tonight’s game and will be out indefinitely. Dewayne Dedmon will likely start in his place.