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Game Preview: Heat stumble into Cleveland to face Cavs

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The Miami Heat are hurting, have dropped three in a row and now face the East-leading and defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

NBA: Miami Heat at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

When the Miami Heat face the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night, it won’t have the same aura as it has the last few seasons. That’s because there’s really nobody left to create any type of familiarity between LeBron and the Heat. In fact, not one of the players in the Heat’s projected starting lineup will have ever played with LeBron.

Dwyane Wade is gone, Chris Bosh is away from the team, and the excitement of Heat-Cavs is just different.

At 15-5, the Cavs are atop the Eastern Conference. Miami, 7-15, is sitting near the bottom, has dropped three in a row and are really banged up. In fact, only 9 players will be available for the team.

About the Matchups
The Heat’s best chance of survival here is going to be a dominant performance by Hassan Whiteside. The Cavs don’t really have a great answer for his size, so if he is engaged on both ends, the Heat will have success.

However, the issues are going to arise on the defensive side of the ball. The Heat really have no size to guard LeBron James, especially without Justise Winslow. They don’t have enough speed to keep step with Kyrie Irving, although Tyler Johnson will give a great effort. And Kevin Love will probably dominate Josh McRoberts on the glass.

Offensively, the Heat have to hope that shots fall from Tyler and Goran. Ellington has been playing well, but the Heat will not survive without productive nights from those two guys as they deal with this slew of injuries.

Prediction: The Heat are going to get blown out, likely. Cleveland has been putting a beating on people. Miami is just too injured. I expect the Cavaliers to be up double digits from the second quarter on. But, we can all hope for the best.

The Heat will have their work cut out for them.

Game Details
Time: 7:30 PM EST @ Quicken Loans Arena
TV: Fox Sports FL, NBALP / Radio: 790 the Ticket

Miami will likely have Dragic, Ellington, McGruder, McRoberts, and Whiteside in the starting lineup again.

Not playing for Miami Friday: Dion Waiters, Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, James Johnson, and Luke Babbitt.