The Miami Heat have bounced back and defeated the 5th seed Cleveland Cavaliers on the road. Miami improves to 29-23 and gain 1 full game on the Cavs in the standings, trailing just 1.5 games behind them in the loaded Eastern Conference. The defense was much sharper tonight, and just like I noted in the pre game preview they were able to contain the superstar backcourt of Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell.
#HEATWin final - Miami 100, Cleveland 97— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) February 1, 2023
Butler: 23pts, 5ast, 3stl
Adebayo: 18pts & 11rebs
Martin: 18pts, 10rebs, 4-5 3PM
Herro: 18pts, 5reb, 3ast pic.twitter.com/gte9x8aCHT
Miami started out a bit rocky early in the 1st quarter as they went down double digits, but they recovered right after and stayed competitive for the rest of the night. Donovan Mitchell was held to just 16 points on 6/17 shooting and 3/13 from three. The Heat were able to get in the air space on his 3 point attempts and apply pressure whenever he would try to get to his spots.
Jimmy Butler set the tone and led the comeback in the 1st quarter. He was aggressive getting to the rim as he finished 10/15 from the free throw stripe. His ability to get to the line had the Cavs on their toes whenever guarding him. Butler had numerous big plays late in the 4th, including a tough mid range pull up to help close it out.
Big shots down the stretch when we needed ‘em pic.twitter.com/ztKRhh1MVg— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) February 1, 2023
Bam Adebayo was also impressive. Unlike Butler though, he didn’t start out as great early. Cleveland made him work for his shots and his usual wheel house jumpers weren’t falling to begin the game. However, the resilience and effort from Adebayo to stay with it throughout was nice to watch. Against the tall and long big men of the Cavs he was still able to finish with another double double. Adebayo made big play after big play in the 4th including some important offensive rebounds.
One thing Bam is gonna do is bully you on the glass pic.twitter.com/Uz1s78gLO8— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) February 1, 2023
Bam's done everything to help the Heat win this close contest:— Naveen Ganglani (@naveenganglani) February 1, 2023
solid defense on switches
guarding the rim
and one of the biggest killers in late-game situations:
Dude's been superb. pic.twitter.com/WVpOgYoQZn
The other member of Miami’s core in Tyler Herro was also solid tonight. He impacted the game in a positive way and hit some timely buckets, including a 4 point play in the 4th quarter. He even had strong one on one defense against the talented Cleveland guards. It’s great to see the growth in his game as an all around player.
However, it was Caleb Martin who was the wild card player. He played absolutely tremendous as an undersized front court player against the combination of Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley.
Caleb Martin played BIG-TIME today, helping Miami secure the W:— Naveen Ganglani (@naveenganglani) February 1, 2023
Despite being undersized against Mobley/Allen. pic.twitter.com/mB30F1yOXr
Night in and night out, this Heat team needs an X factor to step up and put in good offensive numbers. Tonight, that man was Martin. The efficiency, the rebounding and the tenacious defense is everything this team has asked from him and more as a small ball PF. If he could contribute like this more consistently, it could really elevate this team.
The only negative about this win has to be the performance and effort of starting PG Kyle Lowry. We all know the troubles on both ends of the floor have been there this season, but he was just tough to watch in the first half.
Kyle Lowry through 14 minutes:— Naveen Ganglani (@naveenganglani) February 1, 2023
Luckily, Lowry was able to at least make a few plays in the 3rd including a pair of triples and slightly responded from the forgettable first half. Is it enough though is the question… finishing with 6 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists. He was just 2/5 from the field and a -5 when on the court for the entire game.
Overall, It was a great game to watch, and a much needed win to start gaining some momentum during this road trip. Some could argue this is one of the better Miami wins of the season.
The Heat now turn their attention to a battle in Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks on Thursday at 7:30 PM ET. Another game that could have some playoff meaning to it, as the Knicks are right behind the Heat in the standings.