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Heat use balanced attack, crush Cavs 99-84 to overtake top spot in East

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A few formidable dunks led the way for a dominant looking Heat team Saturday night.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

With the Cleveland Cavaliers announcing an hour before the game that LeBron James would take the night off due to rest, the anticipation of a great game for Miami Heat fans quickly diminished. That was to everyone not wearing a Heat jersey. It didn't matter that the Cavs were clearly short-handed or on the second night of a back-to-back. Saturday night, the Heat were ready to play and show they're a legitimate threat in the Eastern Conference.

It was exhibited at the get-go as Gerald Green threw down a slam while getting fouled to get the Heat on the scoreboard, just the appetizing dunk for the entree he'd serve later. Chris Bosh found his shot early, Goran Dragic hit a couple of threes and the Heat found themselves with a solid 34-22 lead after the first.

In the second quarter, Miami would get in a rhythm, testing their jump shot and connecting on it successfully. The Heat guards were the primary contributors as Dwyane Wade and Green led the charge. While Wade got it going and Green slammed a powerful dunk down on the baseline, Dragic had his best half of the season, leading all scorers at half-time with 15 points. His activity through the first two looked a lot more like the 90 million dollar player Miami signed in the off-season. It also led the Heat to a commanding 60-42 lead at intermission. The staggering 74% shooting was just one of the takeaways of the first half. The other was the Green's dunk below:

The third quarter belonged to Wade as he scored 10 of the Heat's 24 points. James watched it all from the sideline, observing his former teammate easily scoring a series of layups on his current team; maybe even missing Wade's production with the lack of help on the Cavs. Hassan Whiteside also got into the action, blocking his fifth shot of the night, as the Heat closed the third up 83-64.

Wade nor Whiteside were needed after that. The Heat pumped up the lead in the fourth, going up by as many as 27, and giving the Cavs no chance of winning. Tyler Johnson had eight points in the quarter and Bosh left his imprint on the game with a ferocious dunk of his own, to ultimately help lead the Heat to a 99-84 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Miami got it done on both sides of the court. Shooting 54% from the field compared to the Cavs 36.5% while having 8 more blocks and 7 more assists, the Heat showed they were the better team Saturday night. Miami made Cleveland pay for James' absence - the players and the fans - with the Heat crowd even chanting "LeBron is tired" in the fourth, a moment LeBron couldn't ignore as all he could do was watch his team play miserable. Kevin Love, who was expected step up, only put up 5 points on 2-11 shooting, a huge credit to the Heat's defense. Richard Jefferson led the Cavs with 16 points.

For the Heat it was Wade and Tyler Johnson with 19 points and 5 rebounds apiece. Dragic added 17 points and 8 assists on 7-11 shooting. Bosh had 14 points and Green 12 points. Whiteside, who was limited with foul trouble, contributed with 9 rebounds and 5 blocks. It was a total team effort, regardless of the level competition. Two straight wins against championship contenders (Oklahoma City Thunder and Cavs) have placed the 12-6 Heat atop the Eastern Conference and 3rd best in the whole league, a premature, yet astounding accomplishment for a new-look Heat team.

The Heat will look to stay at the top as they face the Washington Wizards Monday at 7:30 P.M.