The Miami Heat have beaten the Cleveland Cavaliers (24-56) three times this season by a combined 9 points. One would think that the Heat wouldn't have much of a problem with a team like the Cavs, but it's been completely the opposite.
The last time these two teams faced, Miami had to overcome a 27-point second half deficit on the road to preserve their winning steak. This time around, the Heat figure on having winning as a second priority. The first? Health.
This will be the second to last game for the Heat (64-16) this season, with their finale coming at home on Wednesday against the Orlando Magic. Many Heat players have taken small or larger amounts of time off in the last two weeks, and it looks like it will continue Monday night in Cleveland.
Coach Erik Spoelstra said that Dwyane Wade likely won't play against Cleveland and he didn't travel with the team. He even hinted that both LeBron James and Chris Bosh could sit the final two games as well, but they are uncertain for tonight. It makes zero sense to play those guys in a back-to-back this late in the season when their destiny is set. Udonis Haslem and Shane Battier have missed the last couple games and did not travel with the team, so they are also out.
All things considered, this game means very little to the Heat, and slightly more to the fans. Sure, it would be great to keep climbing up that ladder and adding wins to an already record breaking season, but that's about it. Giving some minutes to other guys like Rashard Lewis, Joel Anthony and Norris Cole could be beneficial at this point.
The Cavs have struggled all season and as of late. They've lost four straight and 14 out of their last 16 including a 14-point loss to the Philadelphia Sixers on Sunday. I'd expect the Cavs to still get up for this game, especially if Kyrie Irving is in the lineup. The Heat have the league's longest current winning streak at six games in a row. I would still expect Miami to continue their great ball movement and play without James, Wade or Bosh. But if Irving is playing well, Miami may struggle to win this game.
Honestly folks there isn't a whole lot to look for in this game. But we'll be watching and cheering on whoever is in uniform.
Let's just hope no more fans rush the court this time around.
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Monday, Apr 15, 2013, 7:00 PM EDT
Quicken Loans Arena