It is always a big night when LeBron James returns home to Cleveland to face his former team and Tuesday is one of those nights. The Miami Heat, fresh off a Sunday afternoon victory over the Houston Rockets, begin a two-game road trip at Quicken Loans Arena against the Kyrie Irving-less Cavaliers.
The Heat are 12-1 against the Cavs since James joined their squad in 2010, including a 5-1 mark in Cleveland. With Irving unavailable, there is a good chance that the Heat will win their tenth straight game in this matchup. Irving has a strained tendon in his left bicep and will be out for the next two weeks and then will be re-evaluated to see if he will be available for the remainder of the season. This couldn’t have come at a worse time for the 26-41 Cavs, who are holding on to slim playoff hopes.
These two teams have played twice this season, the Heat winning both by an average margin of nine points. James is averaging 27.5 points, 8.5 assists and 8.5 rebounds against his former team this season and Dwyane Wade has added 46 points on 19-29 shooting in both games combined. The Heat as a team have shot 52 percent from the field. Without Irving, Dion Waiters will have to step up at the guard spot for the Cavs, but he has played well against the Heat so far this season, averaging 20 points on 48 percent shooting from the field and 50 percent from three. The Cavs have shot just 40.7 percent from the field as a team against the Heat this season.
I think that if the Cavaliers want to have a chance to win this game they will need to play well down low. The Heat like to play with the small lineup, so guys like Tristan Thompson and Spencer Hawes need to do a good job of attacking the offensive glass against one of the worst rebounding teams in the NBA. Hawes has played very well against the Heat in two games against the defending champs this season while with Philadelphia, averaging 17 points on 9.5 rebounds on 53.6 percent shooting. Thompson, on the other hand, has struggled against the Heat, averaging 10 points on 35 percent shooting. He has grabbed 18 boards in the two games, so he will need to continue that if he wants to help his team put their struggles against the Heat to an end.
The Pick: The Heat have played very well as a unit so far this season against the Cavaliers and the Cavaliers have not played well against the Heat. Being without their floor general won’t help the Cavs either. The Heat just snapped their five game losing-skid after Sunday’s win and they are looking to get back on track, as they are still competing for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. They have made it look easy against the Cavs over the past couple of years and I don’t see that changing Tuesday night, the Heat win 105-89.
When: 7:00 p.m. ET
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio
Television: FSOH/Sun Sports