The Miami Heat hosted the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight looking to continue their hot streak and further strengthen their playoff push. Heading into the game, the Heat had won three straight at home, and after a close call in the first half, Miami made it four straight with a resounding 126-110 win thanks to a big second half.
Heat got off to a great start making all three of their first attempts via Bam Adebayo, Kelly Olynyk and Justise Winslow; they also had Cleveland in early foul trouble and one of which saw Justise Winslow nearly bank home a half-court attempt. Kevin Love got to work for Cleveland as he had all eight of their first points on the night.
The Cavaliers may have kept the game close for the opening six minutes, but five turnovers cost them an early but much-needed timeout. Miami came out of the timeout building a quick three-point lead thanks to Bam, Kelly and Dion Waiters.
Cleveland got going once again, and this time it was rookie point guard Collin Sexton who inspired them with a big dunk over Adebayo. Dwyane Wade checked in for the time on the night and got straight to work for the Heat, throwing a flashy pass to Bam for a dunk. Wade helped himself to three dimes on all three of Miami’s next three scores.
Goran Dragic returned to action for the Heat and picked up where he left off, burying a three on his first field goal attempt. The story of the first quarter though was dominated by Cleveland’s lack of ability to hold onto the ball, but they would ultimately end the first up by one.
The second quarter opened up with D-Wade getting his first bucket of the night, thanks to his trademark turnaround fadeaway shot. Josh Richardson added his name to the scorer’s list after going scoreless during the first half, firstly at the free throw line, before he hit a step-back jumper on the assist from Olynyk.
Miami native Brandon Knight got hot for Cleveland as he buried a three on an assist from Kevin Love, taking his tally to 13. The two teams went back and forth as the Heat just couldn’t seem to find a way to pull away from the Cavs.
Miami outscored the Cavaliers 29-28 in the second to tie the game at the half, and if a break was needed, it was now. There were 13 ties and 23 lead changes during the first 24 minutes, with neither team being able to build a lead bigger than four.
The second half provided a spark that Miami was in desperate need of, and considering Orlando and Charlotte had both just won their respective games; it was pressure on for Erik Spoelstra’s team.
Kelly Olynyk got the Heat’s first points of the third as he sunk a deep three from Justise Winslow. Kevin Love and Collin Sexton combined for nine points, all from behind the arc as the Cavs built a four-point lead.
Miami needed someone to step up, and this would be where Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow, Bam Ade, and Kelly Olynyk would step forward. All four players put together a total of 16 points, with both Winslow and the Olynyk contributing with three-point plays.
The Heat shot 62 percent from the field for the game at the end of three quarters, but more importantly, they went on a big run to take an 11 point lead heading into the final period. It was also the first time on the night that they had put up 30+ points in a quarter.
Miami needed to make sure this wasn’t another one of those lead blowing games in which would have devastating ramifications on their playoff hopes. So with D-Wade opening the scoring for the final period, the lead was now up to 13; however, it was far from job done.
Cleveland rallied to bring themselves back within seven, thanks to Nik Stauskas, a technical free throw from Love and yet again another three from Knight. Miami called a timeout with just under two minutes played, and coach Spoelstra needed to steady the ship.
With the lead now just seven, enter fourth quarter Dwyane Wade, who after combining with Whiteside for a very nice looking alley-oop, went on a personal run of four straight points. Miami would now lead by 11.
The highlight play of the fourth also provided us with the highlight of the game, as McGruder saw his three drop before Love fouled him and after a second look the officials decided it was a Flagrant 1. Rodney took full advantage of the free shot at the line to complete his four-point play.
With the Heat up by 13 and the Cavs looking beaten, McGruder went on to get 11 points, all of which came in the fourth. Miami continued to apply the pressure to make sure this one was done, and with 2:19 remaining in the contest there was still time for J Rich to sink a dagger three to take his total to 20.
Whiteside threw down yet another alley-oop slam to put the exclamation mark on this second half Heat performance as they equaled their biggest points total and claimed a big 126-110 win over Cleveland.
Josh Richardson - 20 pts, 2 rebs, 5 asts
Bam Adebayo - 17, 7 and 2
Justise Winslow - 17, 9 and 9
Kelly Olynyk - 15, 1 and 3
Rodney McGruder - 13, 5 and 2
Dwyane Wade - 12, 2 and 5
Hassan Whiteside - 11 and 11
Goran Dragic - 11 pts in 15 mins
Derrick Jones Jr. - 8, 6 and 2
Dion Waiters - 3, 1 and 2