The Cavaliers would draw first blood in this matchup scoring two consecutive three pointers. Even without LeBron, Kyrie and Kevin Love out they’ve shown how many scoring threats they have at their disposal. The Heat really struggled to score in the first half of the quarter shooting 3/8 from the field, while Cleveland seemed unable to miss shooting 7/9. It wasn’t even as if the Heat were playing terrible defense, Cleveland was just incredibly efficient.
James Johnson would lead the charge in getting Miami back within striking distance with some phenomenal baskets and great defensive play. Miami’s reserves played very well, limiting Cleveland’s early efficiency and forcing them to earn their baskets at the foul line. Miami was impressive from beyond the arc hitting 6 of their 8 triples and thus headed into the second quarter tied with the Cavs at 35.
Miami continued their offensive assault to start the second quarter with a great dunk and three by Tyler Johnson leading to a 7-0 run. Johnson looked fantastic taking it upon himself to lead the offense and even appearing D-Wade-esque at times. Wayne Ellington also continued his dominance from beyond the arc as he seemed unphased by Cleveland’s defense. Miami’s defensive effort was also very good and was highlighted by some spectacular play by Josh Richardson.
While the Heat were effective in transition to start the quarter, they elected to use more offensive sets with about 5 minutes left in the second. This seemed to confuse the Cleveland defense as the Heat were very solid in scoring in these sets thanks to a great effort by Whiteside. As the quarter wined down, Miami was relentless with Whiteside and Dragic leading the scoring charge. The Heat would head into the second half ahead 17.
The Heat did not slow down to start the second half as they delivered a barrage of baskets off of contributions from Goran Dragic, and Dion Waiters. Hassan Whiteside would also continue his strong play as he showcased phenomenal footwork and a soft touch in the paint allowing him to reach 20 points midway through the third quarter. Simply put, the Heat looked unstoppable. Cleveland had no answers for Miami’s offense and the Heat really demonstrated what they’re capable when firing on all cylinders.
The Heat reserves played the majority of the fourth quarter and spent the time building on Miami’s large lead. The Heat have had to fight tooth and nail for wins lately and thus it was great to see players like Willie Reed and Okaro White get some more game minutes. Additionally, Josh Richardson had time to get more rust off, and succeeded in delivering his best game since returning from his ankle injury.
Despite the taunting by JR Smith to end the game, it’s obvious that this was a very impressive and important win for the Heat. This game will definitely help the Heat prepare as they get ready to take on Cleveland once again Monday night.