The Cavaliers came into this game against the Heat without Kyrie Irving, Luol Deng, and CJ Miles (for the most part, anyway…CJ played just 2 minutes). A lackluster performance could have been expected. Instead, the Cavaliers played a great all around game and took the Heat, who were without Dwyane Wade, down to the wire.
The Cavaliers had their chances down the stretch, but a ridiculous no-call on a Dion Waiters drive, combined with LeBron James hitting all six of his free throws, proved too much to overcome. Waiters hurt his hip on the play as he landed squarely on it, which made things even tougher for the Cavs. Yet Jarrett Jack, who had a season high in scoring, hit a couple late threes to keep things interesting, but LeBron just wouldn’t miss any FTs and the Heat came away with the win.
But still, the Cavaliers deserve a lot of credit for the heart they showed in fighting right down to the wire against one of the NBA’s best teams.
Now lets get into the numbers.
- 17 and 11 – Dion Waiters had his first double-double of the season with 17 points and 11 assists. Dion was great setting up his teammates and running the offense, not trying to do too much himself in Kyrie’s absence. The Cavaliers had 27 assists as a team, as Dellavedova also chipped in with 6 assists.
- 25 – LeBron wasted no time forcing his will on the game without Dwyane Wade. LeBron scored 25 points in the first quarter en route to his game high 43 points. In the 2nd half, LeBron played decoy for the most part, taking just 3 shots and 1 assist. In the 4th quarter LeBron took just 1 shot and had 1 rebound and 0 assists, but he had a pair of key blocked shots on defense and he hit all 6 of his FTs down the stretch to put the game away. With LeBron drawing the Cavs’ defensive attention, Chris Bosh had 12 points in the 4th quarter.
- 6 vs 3 – The Cavaliers had six players in double figure scoring compared to just three for the Heat. Two Cavaliers had double-doubles (Dion and Andy) compared to none for the Heat. The Cavaliers really did a nice job spreading the work load among everyone, while the Heat relied pretty much solely on LeBron, Bosh, and Ray Allen. Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, those three did just enough to get the win.
- 19 – One of the biggest downfalls for the Cavaliers in this game were the turnovers. The Cavaliers had 19 turnovers, including 4 big ones in the 4th quarter, compared to just two for the Heat in the final quarter. Just limiting a few of the turnovers in this game could have made the difference in the outcome of this game.
- 22 – Tonight the Cavaliers got the Jarrett Jack they thought they were going to be having all season. Jack scored a season-high 22 points to lead the Cavaliers, including those clutch threes late in the game. Unfortunately on the Cavs’ last possession, the Heat doubled Jack to make sure he couldn’t get the inbound pass, and Alonzo Gee had to take the last shot rather than the hot Jack. But regardless, this was a nice game for Jack, shooting 8 of 13 from the field including knocking down 4 of his 6 three pointers. Jack also had 4 rebounds and 4 assists.
There’s not much else to say about this game. It’s frustrating to see the Cavaliers play such a great game against the Heat, only to come away with a tough loss. The Cavs’ defensive intensity was good all game, with the exception of LeBron, who, lets be honest here, there’s not much the Cavs could do to stop. But despite LeBron’s 43 points on 14 of 19 shooting, the Cavaliers held the Heat as a team to 45% shooting from the field.
The Cavaliers will have to keep up this level of play, though, with upcoming games against the Thunder, Rockets, Knicks, and Raptors, all without Kyrie Irving. Hopefully Dion’s hip injury isn’t serious (Dion said after the game he was sore, but that he’d be fine), because the Cavaliers need him to have any chance in this upcoming schedule.