(Photo Credit: David Liam Kyle)
The Miami HEAT beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 95-84 Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena. The win is the HEAT's eighth straight overall and eighth straight over the Cavaliers.
Impact Performance of the Night: LeBron James dominated the action Wednesday night, scoring 28 points and adding eight rebounds, eight assists and three steals. James got to the line at will, making nine of his eleven attempts. James was the driving force behind the HEAT offense for much of the night, but his defense in the second half was what helped turn the game around. In the third quarter James kicked the defense up a few notches, and the Cavaliers struggled to get anything going. When James plays like he did on both ends of the floor, Miami is really tough to beat.
The Deciding Run: After a basket by Earl Clark cut the HEAT lead to one at 34-33, Miami exploded on a 21-11 run. The run spanned 10 minutes over parts of two quarters. During the run, LeBron scored 13 straight points for the HEAT, helping them build a double digit lead. Over the second half, Cleveland was always kept at a distance, never truly threatening the HEAT lead. The outburst from the second to third quarter was just too much for the Cavaliers to handle.
Play of the Game: Miami has shared the ball well all season. Lineups with LeBron James off the floor have been better than they’ve ever been in Miami, and much of it can be attributed to a comfort level that the bench has developed. With just under eight minutes left in the action, the Ray Allen grabbed a rebound off an Earl Clark miss. When the HEAT got into the front court they worked the ball into Michael Beasley at the elbow. When defenders crowded him, he found Norris Cole cutting baseline, from the corner into the paint. This sucked defenders in again, creating a lane to the hoop for a cutter. Dwyane Wade took advantage, slicing down the lane. Cole found Wade for an easy layup. It wasn’t the flashiest play or the proverbial dagger, but it was a perfect representation of what Miami is capable on the offensive end.
Efficiency Rating: Offensive Efficiency: 99.0; Defensive Efficiency: 83.5
Trend to Watch: On Wednesday night, Miami outscored Cleveland 50-28 in the paint. It’s the second straight game that the HEAT dominated an opponent in the most efficient part of the court. Dwyane Wade was exceptional in the post, beating just about every defender that the Cavaliers threw at him. With the floor spaced, HEAT ball handlers were able to get all the way to the rim themselves, or dump it off to the big man crashing down after setting a pick. When all else failed, the HEAT cut hard to the basket and the ball found its way to the cutters. Miami put pressure on the Cleveland defense from all angles, never giving them the same look over and over. When the threes aren’t falling –and they weren’t against the Cavaliers—it’s nice to see the HEAT work to their other strengths.
The Takeaway: The win over the Cavaliers came with many positives. Dwyane Wade looked great, again. He was dynamic on the block, had his jumper falling and was a menace on the defensive end. Michael Beasley was also excellent in extended action. In his 27 minutes, Beasley scored 17 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out two assists. Offensively, he was in control all night, playing with great pace and getting to the rim and the charity stripe. His defense was active, and his presence caused a bunch of bad passes and turnovers. Overall, the HEAT defense was suffocating. After a slow start in the first quarter, Miami clamped down on the Cavaliers offense. They found a way to keep Kyrie Irving out of rhythm all night, which isn’t easy to do. It was a strong performance to open the two-game road trip.
Notes: Dwyane Wade finished with 22 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals. Greg Oden and Shane Battier were inactive.