The Miami Heat did a lot of things right to earn their eight straight victory and 11th of their last 12 games. It also helped that they were once again led by a focused and determined LeBron James who flirted with a triple double against his former team.
With the comfortable 95-84 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron is now 11-1 against the perennial lottery team with his 28 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists. Dwyane Wade had yet another strong game with 22 points as did Michael Beasley with 17 points and 9 rebounds.
The Cavs started hot from the field at the start of the game with the team shooting 55% in the first quarter. All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving had an average game, considering his talent level, with 16 points and only 3 assists but the rest of the starters struggled mightily. Andrew Bynum opened the scoring for his team with two baskets but never scored again in the game. Alonzo Gee (2 points), Tristan Thompson (4 points) and rookie Matthew Dellavedova (0 points and had no chance defensively against Wade) were even worse.
Miami turned the corner soon enough defensively in the second quarter, but not before rattling off an 18-8 run to close the opening quarter. The Cavs went from shooting over 50% in that quarter to just 20% in the second quarter, managing just 14 points as a team. Their defense was as bad, allowing the defending champs to score 12 straight points to open the quarter. That run ballooned to 22-5 with another 8 straight points but the Heat's lead remained in single digits by halftime.
Former lottery pick Dion Waiters was the last Cavs reserve to come off the bench and he almost single-handedly kept the Cavs within striking distance in the second half with a variety of jumpers and trips to the foul line. However, the Heat's defensive pressure was putting the rest of the Cavs players in a stranglehold, forcing turnovers and difficult shots from all spots on the floor. Every time the Cavs threatened to shrink the lead down to single digits and get the crowd back into it, the Heat would have an answer for them.
Though Chris Bosh and Mario Chalmers struggled, the work of LeBron as well as Wade and Beasley was more than enough and the Cavaliers never truly threatened them down the stretch. The hot-shooting trio were the only Heat players to score in the final quarter.
The Heat set a season-low shooting percentage for an opponent when the Cavaliers finished with 34.9% accuracy. The champs struggled from beyond the arc on just 4-19 shooting but they blitzed Cleveland with 17 fast break points (compared to just four from the Cavs) and they continue to shoot very well from the free throw line with a 21-25 performance.
With another victory in their pocket, the team can now settle in for another night in frigid Ohio in anticipation for LeBron's Thanksgiving dinner at his Akron home tomorrow. The team will then travel to Toronto to face the Raptors on Friday night.