The Miami Heat bounced back from an ugly loss to the Phoenix Suns two nights ago to get their first victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers this season.
Jimmy Butler was back in action after missing a game due to a sinus infection and led the way along with Bam Adebayo for the 117-105 win at the FTX Arena on Friday night. It was the first time either player had faced the Cavs, who had won the first two games in the season series. Butler scored 24 points, including 11 in the third quarter, while Adebayo had a monster game with 30 points (11 for 16 FGs, 8 for 8 FTs) and 17 rebounds.
Bam ordered up a 30 piece with 17 boards on the side pic.twitter.com/QBN3fk2zyk— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) March 12, 2022
Kyle Lowry was quiet from the field but contributed 10 assists while reserves Tyler Herro contributed 22 points and Max Strus added 17 on 5 for 11 from beyond the arc.
The win gives the Heat a 2.5 game lead over the second place Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference standings. Cleveland is now six games back from Miami and now in the the sixth spot.
Bam started strong to help power Miami’s 9-0 start to the game. His aggressiveness at the rim as well as his defense made a mark right from the beginning while the Cavs missed their first seven shots. The score was 12-1 by the time Cleveland made their first shot in 10 attempts. They managed to get rolling but a Heat 11-2 run near the end of the first quarter gave them the 28-15 lead.
The Heat were up by 14 twice in second quarter before Cleveland’s 18-5 run cut the deficit to 51-50 with just a couple of minutes left in the first half. Strus answered by knocking down his third triple of the second quarter at the buzzer to retake the lead for the 58-57 halftime score.
Big plays from Max tonight. Those five 3s were clutch pic.twitter.com/XLJFrkwhws— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) March 12, 2022
The second half started with Cleveland landing the first punch with six points in a row to get their biggest lead of the night of five. Miami roared back to retake the lead after scoring 13 straight points in five minutes to make it 71-63 in the third quarter. Bam kept being physical inside with two straight dunks, one as part of a three-point play.
Butler’s back to back steals for breakaway dunks highlighted the monster 26-4 run to give them their largest lead of game at the time at 82-67.
Back-to-back possessions.— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) March 12, 2022
Two Jimmy steals.
Two Jimmy slams. #JIMVP pic.twitter.com/KqQaHSNDIw
Back to back Strus 3s made it 99-83 with four minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Cavs cut it to 107-99 with less than four minutes left but Butler responded with a strong post move for the score to seal the well-earned victory.
Darius Garland led Cleveland with 24 points and 10 assists, but was constantly hounded by Butler into a dreadful 4-17 shooting performance including 1-6 from deep, with 15 of his points coming from the free throw line. He also committed seven of his team’s 17 turnovers.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are next as part of Miami’s second game in their back to back set tomorrow night.