The Cleveland Cavaliers (8-6) seek their fifth win in a row as they welcome the Miami Heat (9-5) to Rocket Mortage Fieldhouse on Thanksgiving Eve. Cleveland is coming off two gutsy wins against the Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers, missing Donovan Mitchell for both of them.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Miami Heat
Where: Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse - Cleveland, Ohio
When: 7:30 p.m. EST
TV: Bally Sports Ohio
Spread: MIA -2.5
Expected Cavs Starting Lineup:
Darius Garland, Max Strus, Dean Wade, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen
Cavs Injury Report: Ricky Rubio (Personal, OUT), Ty Jerome (ankle, OUT), Isaac Okoro (knee, OUT), Isaiah Mobley (G League, OUT)
Expected Heat Starting Lineup:
Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson, Jimmy Butler, Haywood Highsmith, Bam Adebayo
Heat Injury Report: Bam Adebayo (hip, PROBABLE), Kevin Love (personal, OUT), Tyler Herro (ankle, OUT), Nikola Jovic (G League, OUT), Jamal Cain (G League, OUT), RJ Hampton (knee, OUT), Cole Swider (G League, OUT)
What to watch for
Big after big after big...
There was much to say about the toughness of the Cavaliers’ big men over the summer after getting worked by the New York Knicks in the playoffs last season, but that talk has been mighty quiet so far. Jarrett Allen, who received the most backlash for not performing well in the postseason and then admitting the lights were too bright for him, has held his own against both Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid in back-to-back games. In those games, Allen averaged 20.5 points, nine rebounds, and four assists. He held Jokic to just 18 points and battled against Embiid all night, commendable efforts against unquestionably the two best centers in the league.
The tough sledding continues Wednesday night against a rested Bam Adebayo, who led the Heat in points Monday night versus the Chicago Bulls. Adebayo is also one of the best centers in the league, averaging 22.8 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 4.1 assists per game. Considering it's a back-to-back, how the Cavs guard Adebayo to limit his impact passing and rebounding will be a good indication of Cleveland’s chances in this game.
It was pretty clear last night against the Sixers that Darius Garland’s hand was bothering him. Dribbling and shooting looked labored and, for a little while, there was uncertainty about whether the Cavs would be able to survive without him. Craig Porter Jr. stabilized the ship, thankfully, but Garland’s hand is worth keeping an eye on especially given the injuries in the backcourt.
One stat to watch
With Mitchell and LeVert unavailable as of late, the Cavs have had to go back to their offense from two years ago when they burst onto the scene as a formidable opponent. One of those ways is by getting into the paint and going to work down low with the double-big lineup. The Cavs have outscored their opponents in the paint in every game on this win streak, and by sizeable margins (+24 against Portland, +12 against Detroit, +10 against Denver, +16 against Philadelphia). Miami is allowing the 10th-fewest shot attempts in the paint at just 10 per game per NBA.com. The Cavs average 18 shots in the paint per game, and have been forced to take more as of late. How that strategy works against the stingy Heat defense will dictate how well the Cavs are able to generate offense.