Fresh off snapping a five-game losing skid, the Cleveland Cavaliers continue a four-game homestand on Sunday when they welcome the visiting Miami Heat.
Miami continues a four-game road trip with Sunday’s contest, coming in having dropped its first two decisions at Toronto and Washington.
Friday’s 107-106 overtime loss against the Wizards exposed the Heat’s struggles with depth. Just seven players dressed, six of whom logged more than 30 minutes.
As Friday’s contest wore on, the Miami offense sputtered with a pair of second-half quarters scoring fewer than 20 points, followed by only two points in overtime.
“I really wish I could have told something better to my locker room, because I’m really proud of that effort tonight.” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said in his postgame press conference.
Kyle Lowry recorded a triple-double with 24 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds, while Max Strus added 22 points — but shot just 3-of-14 from beyond the 3-point arc.
The last of Strus’ misses came out of a timeout on the game’s final possession.
“I disappeared in the second half and we had a lot of guys step up and play hard, give us great minutes,” Strus told the Sun-Sentinel. “We should have won the game. I’ll take that one and move on from it.”
Miami faces Cleveland still facing numerous roster questions. Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler, both of whom sat on Friday, are listed as day-to-day with knee injuries.
Butler leads the Heat at 20.9 points per game, while Adebayo is averaging 19.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. Tyler Herro, averaging 19.6 points and 2.4 made 3-pointers a contest, missed the Washington game with an ankle injury.
Duncan Robinson, Dewayne Dedmon and Gabe Vincent are also all listed as day-to-day.
Cleveland, meanwhile, opened its four-game homestand on Friday with a 132-122, double-overtime defeat of Charlotte. The win was the Cavaliers’ first since Nov. 6 when they concluded an eight-game winning streak.
The Hornets very nearly extended Cleveland’s losing skid, rallying from a 16-point second-half deficit to force extra frames.
“We let our guard down,” Darius Garland said in his postgame press conference, following a 41-point performance. “We thought the game was over. We was up by like 12 and that’s when they started making shots. Bad communication from some of us with the switches and screens and stuff like that. We have to be better at the defensive end of just communicating.”
Garland’s 41 points came less than a week after he finished with 51 points in a Nov. 13 loss to Minnesota. The 51-point outpouring set the NBA’s single-game scoring-high — for about an hour, anyway. Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid scored 59 points the same night.
Donovan Mitchell added 34 points in the win on Friday. Mitchell is one of just five players in the league averaging north of 31 points per game with at least 11 games played.
While the backcourt duo paced the offense, Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff praised the total-team effort — particularly in the overtimes.
“Everybody who was on the floor made a play,” Bickerstaff said in his postgame press conference. “It was shots, it was stops, it was rebounds, assists. I just thought that there was a will and a determination.”
–Field Level Media