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Danny

Cleveland Cavaliers at Miami HEAT Official Game Thread and Preview

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(Photo Credit: Joe Murphy)

The Miami HEAT return home tonight to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers. The HEAT (39-14) have won 10 games in a row, a season high. Tip off is set for 6 PM; coverage on Sun Sports starts at 5:30 PM.

1: Why did it take All-Star Weekend for everyone to catch on to how good Kyrie Irving is?

Couper Moorhead: While anyone who uses Twitter to accentuate their NBA viewing has known about Irving for quite some time, the majority of casual fans still don’t purchase League Pass – and since Irving missed a huge chunk of his one year in college as well, he simply missed out on nationally televised exposure up until last weekend. Some are jumping ahead a little too quickly to anoint him as one of the very, very best point guards in the league – he is fantastic, but not without flaws – but guys like Irving that play entertaining, efficient, winning basketball deserve attention, especially with so much underserved hyperbole tossed about in this league.

Danny Martinez: For the casual fan, there seems to be a lag period before a player is truly appreciated. The last two seasons, the Cavaliers haven’t had many nationally televised games, so it was hard for Irving to get serious exposure. Well, that’s changed now. Irving is one of the best players in the league and is only 20 years old. All-Star Weekend wasn’t a surprise to those who follow NBA action every night on twitter, but it still served as Irving’s coming out party. He’s a treat to watch and the thought that he’s this good this fast is scary.

2: The Cavaliers took some grief last year for their selection of Tristan Thompson, but has he looked better this season?

Couper: Thompson’s greatest issue last season was that he simply couldn’t make a shot, but even then he had good rebounding and activity (offensive boards, blocks) rates. Now he’s catching and finishing around the rim with consistency and even has a few touch shots in the 4-10 foot range he can go to. Defense is another story entirely, but Thompson has at the very least shown that he has both talent and the drive to improve his play.

Danny: Thompson’s season really took off when Anderson Varejao went out injury. Thompson had always posted strong rebounding numbers, but even they jumped to another level when he started to receive more playing time. Offensively, Thompson is scoring more efficiently than last season. He’s still not a finished project on that end, but the improvement has been promising. Thompson’s growth in just two seasons portends good things for the Cavaliers moving forward.

3: Is there anything left for the HEAT to prove in the regular season?

Couper: There are always going to be people that hold a regular season record against a team like the Knicks – in third place in the East now behind Indiana – against the HEAT, but I don’t know what else the HEAT can possibly prove until the playoffs roll around. If you know where to look and have been paying attention the defense has shown up at a playoff level in spurts, the offense is world beating and nobody is playing the type of heavy minutes that should worry anyone about fatigue. We’ve always known that they just need to get to mid-April healthy, but even the toughest to please out there don’t have much to nit-pick these days.

Danny: No, not really. Over the course of the season, there has been chatter that the HEAT defense had fallen off, that the HEAT struggled to win on the road and that the HEAT struggled too much on the glass to have a chance to repeat. None of which were really true, but space had to be filled. This most recent 10-game winning streak should put an end to the worries as the HEAT have played great basketball, on both ends of the floor, at home and on the road. The only place left to prove anything is the postseason. We’ll get there soon enough.

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The Dinosaur better step up 2 night,hes been playing like a girl lately.

This is the worst comment of the season.

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The irony of King James beating his cavs. I don't know the rumors about him returning to that team. Bet he won't for few more years. Not unless they've had great signings and a 52 or so wins on some other year which I doubt. He'll come up 40 points or more tonight: 40 points, 12 rebounds, 8 or 9 assists. Some of the Heat should be tired. Get some minutes off Lewis.

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It's only vs the Cavs but I'm still excited to go to the game :D Hopefully D Wade has another big game.

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interesting, I thought everyone had already caught on to how good Kyrie is before the All-Star weekend. Between his Rookie of the Year, game winning shots, highlights on Sportscenter, the Uncle Drew commercials, I thought he has had pretty coverage. Everyone I talk to is pretty familiar with his game but maybe its just me.

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Stay in ur lane.

This is my highway. But really, insulting any player by using a "girl" reference is weak. It's 2013, we should be past that by now. Also, Bosh has had one bad game during the 10 game win streak, the Atlanta game.

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I can't complain about any of the starting 5 lately. just tremendous basketball!

Dont you think it's dangerous ? I mean we are only in February and we are playing so good, too good ?

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Dont you think it's dangerous ? I mean we are only in February and we are playing so good, too good ?

Hope they really play like this all season next season

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  • Similar Content

    • By Joe B.
      Photo Credit: David Liam Kyle
      The Miami HEAT fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers 114-84 Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena. Derrick Williams led the way for the HEAT with 17 points. Click here for the full recap on HEAT.com.
    • By Joe B.
      Photo Credit: Matthew Stockman
      The Miami HEAT face the Cleveland Cavaliers Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena. The HEAT defeated the Cavaliers 122-101 in their last meeting on March 19. Tip-off is set for 7:30 PM. Television coverage on FOX Sports Sun begins at 7:00 PM. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket.
      1: While down for most of the second half, what led to Miami pulling within three against the Hawks on Wednesday?
      Couper Moorhead: This is where we throw the statistics out the window for a bit and talk about just how much this HEAT team, even with just nine available players for a stretch of four games in five nights, just seems to keep on coming no matter the score. Even with 15 losses, Miami’s net rating (pace adjusted average scoring differential) is -2.6, meaning they rarely actually get blown out. It just seems this team is allergic to being down double digits, and with players like Tyler Johnson and Rodney McGruder going all out all the time they tend to make enough hustle plays and run enough in transition to keep the team in it even on nights like Wednesday when the offense isn’t quite flowing as they would want it to. That sort of grit doesn’t always translate to wins, but it says a lot about the collective character of this group.
      Joe Beguiristain: Pure grit. Despite having just nine available players on the second night of a back-to-back, Miami made no excuses and kept grinding. While Tyler Johnson had a career-night, both Goran Dragić and Rodney McGruder were also instrumental in the comeback bid. Dragić fought through the fatigue and did all he could in the fourth quarter, while McGruder never stopped hustling on both ends.
      In short, the HEAT showed a lot of resolve to climb back and cut the deficit to single-digits a few times in the fourth. Although they ultimately fell short, you have to commend them for never giving up. That persistent mentality all starts at the top with Coach Spo, who always says that his team has enough to compete regardless of the circumstances. It remains to be seen how Miami will fare on a tough back-to-back set against the Cavaliers and Bulls, but you can rest assured that the HEAT will give it their all from beginning to end.  
      2: How have the Cavaliers started their season as defending champs?
      Couper: As you would expect the defending champs to do. Cleveland is 15-5 with an elite offense and an overall defensive rating that, hovering around league average, probably doesn’t quite tell the full story since Cleveland has so often been up early. The Cavs recently went on a three-game losing streak, with two coming on the road, against the Bucks, Clippers and Bulls, but this is one of those teams where the true story of their season will be told after April 15. It’s somewhat similar to the 2014 Miami HEAT, in that respect, as that team had just come off three-straight trips to the Finals, back-to-back titles and even a 27-game winning streak – there just wasn’t much left to prove in the regular season for a veteran group. So, they took a business-like approach to the regular season, won their games, and rounded into shape for the playoffs.
      Joe: Outside of a three-game losing streak last week, Cleveland has started the season pretty well. In fact, the Cavaliers are the best three-point shooting team in the league, which should come as no surprise given all the weapons they have. Here’s a crazy stat: Cleveland has four regular rotation players who shoot well over 40 percent from downtown. Of course, a lot of that has to do with LeBron James’ ability to consistently find the open man when opposing teams send a double team his way. While that’s nothing new, James is averaging a career-high 9.1 assists per game this season. Otherwise, Kyrie Irving has been superb on the offensive end, especially from mid-range.
      Things haven’t been as sharp for the Cavaliers on the defensive side of things, as they rank below league average in efficiency. That said, this is a team that can turn it on at a moment’s notice. 
      3: How can Miami defend LeBron James and is narrowing it down to that one matchup even the right way to think about the Cavaliers anymore?
      Couper: Similar to the situation with Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks or Paul Millsap and the Hawks, the HEAT are short a number of their best wing defenders right now. McGruder and Johnson will do the best they can, but sometimes you’re just at a size disadvantage and smart, veteran players know how to take advantage of that. And with James you have the added threat of his passing so if Miami elects to try and double him in the post when he has a smaller defender on him, James will immediately find the open space on the floor. Nobody in the league has a particularly good answer for that right now, so Miami may just have to live with the results in one-on-one defense and stay disciplined in their help so as not to allow a barrage of open threes.
      Joe: Like I stated in my previous response, Cleveland has so many weapons that you can’t just solely focus in on James. If it’s not Irving torching you from distance, it’s Kevin Love, who is shooting a career-best 42.2 percent from beyond the arc. Let’s also not forget the forward’s 34-point first quarter against the Trail Blazers on November 23.  
      As such, I believe Miami should try and go at James one-on-one rather than double team him. Regardless of how much size McGruder has given up, he has made things tough on every assignment thus far. It’ll be difficult either way, but the HEAT have the mental fortitude and toughness needed to compete at a high level on Friday night. 

      Highlights:
      March 19-Cavaliers at HEAT
      December 5-Cavaliers at HEAT
      Game Notes:
      The HEAT are 7-15, while the Cavaliers are 15-5. Miami has won 14 of its last 17 against Cleveland. Goran Dragić leads the HEAT in points (18.0) and assists (6.5) per game. Kyrie Irving leads the Cavaliers in scoring at 24.6 points per contest.  
      Efficiencies (Rank):
      HEAT Offense: 100.4 (24) HEAT Defense: 103.0 (14) Cavaliers Offense: 111.0 (3) Cavaliers Defense: 105.2 (19)
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