What a night for the Miami Heat. At the beginning of what promises to be a very challenging week, the Heat came out with maximum effort and gave the Cavaliers more than they could handle. LeBron James' second return to South Florida this season was not anything noteworthy for him, as he had a very off game for his standards.
But his counterpart, Dwyane Wade, was the catalyst for the Miami Heat who played inspired, team oriented basketball. The Heat dominated the glass against the Cavs, and they also shot the ball well, and limited Cleveland into long shots and isolation basketball.
It helped that Kyrie Irving took much longer than normal to get going. And it helped that LeBron was a little off for this one. Mostly, it helped that Kevin Love didn't even play in this game. But no excuses, the Heat are plenty short-handed as well.
The story of the game is the word ENERGY. The Heat brought it. It was exciting, invigorating, and rejuvenating for Miami to play like this. In a season where they are fighting for a spot in the playoffs, the Heat needed this. Wade set the tone and it was followed by Mario Chalmers, Luol Deng and Hassan Whiteside.
There's no X's and O's tonight to break down here. The Heat played their game, and with Dragic and Wade leading the offense, they were efficient. The Heat were simply ON with their shots, and they simply brought the focus, intensity and effort to beat a team like the Cavs.
The Heat were up 18 by halftime, had a second half lead all the way up to 25, and it was near 20 points for most of the second half. The Cavs closed in closer later in the fourth, but the Heat held on despite the run.
Chalmers was a bright spot for the Heat. He had 16 points off the bench and was a huge spark for the Heat. Everyone just played really well as the Heat shot 55%. Wade had a game-high 32 points (in 30 minutes), and Dragic had 20 points, and scored timely baskets for Miami. Whiteside scored 16 points and had 11 rebounds. Luol Deng joined them in double figures with 11.
LeBron had 26 points, but much of it came with the Heat letting up on offense, not wanting to give up threes to shorten the lead. Kyrie Irving had 21 points, but based on what he has done lately, that's a success. Timofey Mozgov was the only other Cav to score in double figures.
The Heat just played a great game from start to finish. Miami started the game 9-2, and although Cleveland came back to tie it late in the first, the Heat set the tone. It was one of those special games. You have to wonder if they can learn to muster this type of energy for the rest of the season.
There wasn't anything missing in this game. The Heat gave everything they had, and they came out on top 106-92.
Next up for Miami is a Wednesday matchup at home against the Portland Trailblazers.