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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Game 28: Cavs at Heat

MIAMI HEAT (14-16) 101, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (17-11) 91
AmericanAirlines Arena
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7

1. Merry Christmas, everyone.

2. This marked Cavs forward LeBron James' first game in South Beach since he announced to the world on July 11, 2014, he was rejoining the Cavs. He received some boos and cheers when he was announced. He spent most of the day smiling, greeting old friends, joking with fans, hugging ex-teammates and talking to D-Wade. There was no urgency. No killer instinct. He just wanted to be everyone's BFF.

3. The 2014-15 season has been one of constant adjustments for the Cavs. On Christmas, they played their their first game without starting center Anderson Varejao, who tore his Achilles' tendon. He will be sidelined for the rest of the season and will undergo surgery soon. Just about everyone I talked to said the same thing. "It was only a matter of time." You knew he was going down at some point. It happens every year.

4. Cavs coach David Blatt pulled a fast one with the starting lineup and started Kevin Love at center. He's not much of a defensive presence at power forward, much less center. I figured he's start Tristan Thompson at center and begin with a more conventional lineup. Blatt tried to outsmart everyone, which left the Cavs at a major disadvantage all night. They have some big men at the end of the roster. You'll never know if they can play until you run them out there. The Heat were playing without their starting center in Chris Bosh, yet they kicked the Cavs butts on the boards, 44-37. Love never got in any kind of rhythm - again - and finished with 14 points and five rebounds. Heat center Chris Andersen made more of an impact with 12 points, eight rebounds and one block.

5. The Cavs' 3-point accuracy and foul shooting were abysmal against the Heat. They were 6 of 26 from the 3-point line (23 percent), and 21 of 33 from the foul line (64 percent). James was horrible at the foul line and made 10 of 18.

6. Love, by the way, just can't make a 3-point basket. In his last four games, he's 1 of 10 (10 percent). He missed all four of his attempts Thursday. In his last six games, he's 3 of 16 (18.8 percent). That's such a major part of his game, one reason the Cavs wanted him. The other was his rebounding, and that wasn't anything special, either. LeBron James yelled at him one time to box out.

7. Veteran center Brendan Haywood must be ready for the glue factory or totally out of shape. Those are the only reasons I can figure why Blatt refuses to play him. Granted, he doesn't move around very well. He certainly doesn't run the floor like a gazelle. But he's long. Man, is he long. He will block shots and alter a few along the way. It's going to be tough getting him in shape, but I believe it's Blatt's best option. Blatt didn't play Haywood, Lou Amundson or Alex Kirk against the Heat.

8. The Cavs have lost 11 consecutive games to the Heat, including their last eight on the road. They haven't defeated the Heat since March 29, 2011. They haven't won in Miami since Jan. 25, 2010. 

9. Bosh missed his seventh consecutive game Thursday with a strained calf muscle. He's an All-Star caliber big man. That's a major setback for the Heat, but at least he's close to coming back. That's not the case with Varejao.

10. Heat guard Dwyane Wade and forward Luol Deng combined for 56 points against the Cavs. Deng spent 40 games on the Cavs roster last year after being traded from Chicago. He didn't enjoy his time with the Cavs and couldn't wait to get out of town. Good riddance, Luol. He should be commended, though, for his outstanding game against the Cavs. He defended James on one end. Offensively, he had 25 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

11. If Cavs guard Dion Waiters continues to play like he has, he might barge his way back into the starting lineup. He had eight points, six rebounds, three blocks and two steals. He also stopped Wade in his tracks in the second half, holding him to 2 of 12 shots and seven points. Of course, Wade did major damage in the first half with 24 points.

12. The Heat is only 6-10 at home this season.

UP NEXT: vs. Detroit, Quicken Loans Arena, 4:30 p.m. Sunday

SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. Luol Deng (6-8, 220)
PF Shawn Marion (6-8, 228) vs. Shawne Williams (6-10, 230)
C Kevin Love (6-10, 243) vs. Chris Andersen (6-10, 245)
SG Mike Miller (6-8, 218) vs. Dwyane Wade (6-4, 220)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Mario Chalmers (6-2, 190)
Cavs - C Anderson Varejao, G A.J. Price
Heat - F/C Chris Bosh, F Josh McRoberts
Monty McCutchen, John Goble, Kevin Scott


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