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Cavaliers win could be blueprint for Heat playoff trouble

Mar 29, 2011, 11:27 PM EDT

Miami Heat v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

Baron Davis and his swagger are a great storyline and a Heat killer. The cathartic feeling for Cavaliers fans makes headlines and the legions of Heat haters happy.

Heat fans will rightfully counter this is one relatively meaningless game. And they’re right, this one game doesn’t matter.

Rather, what should worry Heat fans is how Cleveland’s front line — primarily Ryan Hollins and J.J. Hickson — dominated the Heat inside. The Cavs were longer, more athletic, controlled the paint and with it the game. And this is Cleveland, not Boston or Orlando or other potential playoff matchups the Heat have in their future.

It was the length and quality play up front that earned the Cavaliers a 102-90 win, one which will be their signature victory of the season (even more than wins over the Celtics and Lakers).

Long-standing concerns about Miami’s interior play had been alleviated for the past several weeks when Chris Bosh played well, but Tuesday night he was atrocious and played down to the worst of his reputation. He was soft and passive. Frankly, it’s a reputation that is not really fair but gets reinforced by nights like this on a big stage, when he shot 5-for-14 with just four rebounds, was fumbling the ball in traffic, played almost no defense and finished a -24. The Heat would have been better with Joel Anthony playing big minutes.

Hollins’ key plays against Bosh came when the score was tied 83-83 in the fourth quarter. He blocked a Bosh shot, had a monster dunk off a Davis assist (Davis seemed to have his hand on all the key plays) and also drew several fouls getting to the line. He and Anthony Parker made up a 12-0 run that gave Cleveland a lead it never relinquished.

Hickson was just too athletic for Miami’s front line, and he finished with 21 points and 12 boards.

Cleveland’s big men were moving well without the ball and that exposed the terrible defensive rotations of the Heat this night, which was their other big flaw. Penetration by Davis got the help, but all night long nobody on Miami helped the helper. That left big men cutting (or Parker at the arc) open and the result was good look buckets for the Cavaliers.

But it was also one of those nights for Cleveland where even the bad looks fell. That’s where Davis and his swagger come in. He hit a three to start the game, he hit a ridiculous one before the half on a broken play with a hand in his face. He made spectacular passes and hit layups all night long.

Davis brings good and bad to the table, but when he is confident it rubs off on teammates and it did this night. It is the best of Davis, and he can still bring it some nights.

The last time Miami Heat lost to a sub .500 team was Jan. 12 to the Clippers (as Tom Haberstroh of ESPN reminded us), when Davis dropped 20 points and nine assists before he was traded to Cleveland. Tuesday night was Davis’ first start as a Cavalier and seemed to be in on every key play.

It means little in the grand scheme. LeBron is still in Miami, Cleveland still has the worst record in the NBA and the Cavaliers still have major rebuilding in front of them while the Heat are contenders. The only thing it did was put the Heat three losses behind the Bulls (meaning ‘kiss that top seed goodbye’) and one behind the struggling Celtics in the loss column. But we’re talking about home court in the playoffs, and that’s what Cleveland used to talk about, not potential draft picks.

But for one night, one game, that didn’t matter and Cavs fans soaked it up.

  1. purdueman - Mar 30, 2011 at 12:03 AM

    This just in! Big mouth punk and former Michigan “Fav 5″ guy Jalen Rose was busted earlier this month on a “driving under the affluence of incohol” charge (DUI). Figure his luck had to run out sooner than later. I bet that “Uncle Tom” (Grant) Hill is laughing his arse off over the news!

  2. metalhead65 - Mar 30, 2011 at 12:06 AM

    why is it when the heat lose it does not mean anything but when they win it is a example of what a truly great team they are? how about giving the teams that beat them just a lttle credit?if not at least stop making excuses for the heat and let the team that beat them enjoy the moment? the cavs more than anybody need to enjoy this win whether means anything to the heat or not. they lost to one of the worst teams in the league,a team everygody made fun of after getting humilated the last time they played in cleveland so let them and heat haters enjoy the moment.

    • purdueman - Mar 30, 2011 at 1:27 AM

      metalh… Very fair comments, but everyone is focusing their Heat hate on La Bum for the shameless way he bent Cleveland and their fans over… and that’s all that it was too, shameless!

      The stunt that La Bum played tonight by ducking the Cleveland fans during the player introductions was both gutless and a second backhand to the face of the fans that once worshiped him.

      D-Wade though isn’t any better. D-Wade used the Chicago Bulls as part of his little charade while he was all time pulling together the “Three Prima Donna’s”. Grease-ball Pat Riley has had D-Wade wrapped around his crooked little finger for quite some time now, so it really shouldn’t have come as a big surprise the way he used the Bulls in the name of being “a native Chicagoan”, and all the BS about his two boys being in Chicago being a factor too.

      I have no quarrel though with Bosh. Toronto’s a great city, but it’s also NBA obscurity too. Bosh is a crybaby and softy and WAY overrated though, so Miami paid too much for a pig in a poke; the last laugh will ultimately be on Riley, because now he’s salary cap strung for a long time to come.

    • liltmac2003 - Mar 30, 2011 at 2:41 AM

      I absolutely 100% agree.

      I still can’t believe LeBron and Bosh have identical contracts. Plus it seems that LITERALLY every play, on offense or defense, Dwayne Wade always looks at the ref and complains. Regardless of what happens. I mean yeah, show some emotion, but don’t go DAYS OF OUR LIVES drama on me.

      LeBron not showing up in the introductions I thought was pathetic and hilarious. Tom from Tom & Jerry is a pussycat and LeBron James are both the same, except LeBron is not a cat.

      LeBron should of just stayed with the Cavs, Dwayne should of signed with the Bulls, and Chris Bosh should’ve went back to Jurassic Park.

  3. goforthanddie - Mar 30, 2011 at 12:07 AM

    OK, so you’re suggesting Miami is weak inside? Like everybody in America has been saying all season?

    • purdueman - Mar 30, 2011 at 12:37 AM

      If Chris Bosh was any softer, instead of him starting to be known as “softy” in other NBA cities (save for LA where Softie Gasol already owns that nickname), he’d be known as “Creme Puff”!

  4. trickybastard - Mar 30, 2011 at 1:18 AM

    Yeah Kurt what about that 40 point win margin you claimed in your LeBron entourage post?

    • keegax - Mar 30, 2011 at 7:50 AM

      GREAT point! journalists are rarely held accountable for what they say. If the weather man predicts the wrong forecast too often he’s canned, to bad this doesn’t happen elsewhere.

    • savocabol1 - Mar 30, 2011 at 8:04 AM

      Kurt is currently eating crow and will not address it. I believe he owes the entire city of Cleveland an apology.

  5. hnirobert3 - Mar 30, 2011 at 7:49 AM

    So the Cavs beating the Heat shows their weakness but when they beat the C’s that’s just an off night for them? This is the first time they’ve lost to a .500 since January 12th (vs. the Clippers, another Baron Davis team, THAT’S THE KEY).

    Spo said it best. They just didn’t care and they got what they deserved. I’ve seen this time and time again this year where they play half awake through the first half or first 3 quarters and turn it up at the end. They tied the game in the 4th but run out of gas. You just can’t win consistently doing that…

  6. savocabol1 - Mar 30, 2011 at 8:14 AM

    “Davis knocking down those pull-up threes and setting up teammates (who also are hitting) is the Cavs best and only real shot at winning this thing and giving the fans of Cleveland the cathartic release they wish. And it’s not going to be enough”

    “Good job pissing LeBron off, Cleveland. I’d move the under/over on the number of points he drops on the Cavs tonight up to 40, and probably take the over now.”

    “This time the Heat come in hot and the Cavs cold. And we probably can expect about the same outcome (as December 2).”

    Above are some fine quotes taken from recent articles on this site about how the Cavs were supposed to get murdered against the Heat. Yes, we want to rub this win in.

  7. florida727 - Mar 30, 2011 at 9:31 AM

    hnirobert3 – Mar 30, 2011 at 7:49 AM
    They just didn’t care and they got what they deserved. I’ve seen this time and time again this year where they play half awake through the first half or first 3 quarters and turn it up at the end. They tied the game in the 4th but run out of gas. You just can’t win consistently doing that…
    ————————————————————————
    Foremost, I can’t stand the Heat and LeBum. I hope they go out in the first round of the playoffs, but your last sentence says it all… “they can’t win consistently doing that”. Here’s the kicker: come playoff time, they won’t play like that. They’ll play like they know how to play in playoff basketball games. As much as I hate to admit it, they ARE a threat to win the whole thing if only because the playoffs resemble nothing like the regular season. A lot of team “go through the motions” in the regular season, then play to a whole new level in the playoffs. (They’re usually the teams with the most raw talent, and it would be hard to argue that the Heat are not among them.) That’s why I rarely watch an entire NBA game during the regular season. If I want to watch “real” basketball, I’ll wait until the playoffs. Sorry, Mr. Stern, but your regular season product doesn’t do anything for me. I’ll take college hoops over the NBA any day.

    • hnirobert3 - Mar 30, 2011 at 9:58 AM

      The one last hope I have of my Heat making and winning the Finals is Wade. That man does things in the playoffs, especially when he has solid pieces around him, that I haven’t seen in a long time. He can will his team to win, especially, and I’ll take the criticism for saying this, if the refs have loose lips and are calling everything, like they did in 2006.

      He’s played terribly this year vs the Celts, but do you remember the flight he put up last year in the playoffs to the team that would eventually make it to game 7 of the Finals? It was 1 on 5 and he won a game singlehandedly and almost won another 2 on his own before the Heat blew late leads because, again, 5 vs. 1 usually has 5 winning. His second best player was Beasley and his third best player was Jermaine “Zombie” O’Neal. I’d imagine he’d do better with LBJ and Bosh, like he did better when he still had a good Shaq on his team.

      I’m not freaking out about this loss like everyone else is down here in SoFla. I’m disappointed they lost because if they win they’re in sole possession of 2nd place with an easy schedule the rest of the way.

  8. ocgunslinger - Mar 30, 2011 at 10:35 AM

    I worked late last night and was channel surfing and found the game and the score was 98 to 88 when I tuned in. I could not believe it and the stadium was rocking as Davis made a drive to the basket and scored. The next few minutes were FAN-tastic and I could not have been happier for the team and their supporters who truly deserved to savor that win. The Cav’s will now be a sentimental favorite of mine as I sincerely hope they can put together a team that will win a ring or make it to the NBA finals ahead of the Heat and that what’s his name character who once played in Cleveland. GO CAV’S…….

  9. hnirobert3 - Mar 30, 2011 at 11:11 AM

    I heard something funny on the radio just now. Someone called in and said that Bosh’s position is Flower Forward. Now that’s a good, creative joke!

  10. davidly - Mar 30, 2011 at 12:00 PM

    Nothing against the coach, but it Larry Brown had coached this team all year, they’d be scary good.

    But on to the playoffs: Can they win four against Boston or Chicago? I doubt it. Though the current health of the Celts much be encouraging, as young and strong as the big three are.

    My big prediction: Philly is gonna take ‘em to six.

  11. flypnotik - Mar 30, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    I have to give congrats to the Cavs for playing a great game. You could see the intensity they were playing with. They wanted the win, plain and simple.

    With that said the Heat were missing shots, missing offensive rebounds which translated into no second chance points. Defensive rebounding was poor, and overall you could just tell the Heat were not all there. I have to agree with florida727 that the regular season vs post season are two completely different animals, but to say the Cavs win over the Heat is the blueprint for other teams to beat them is for lack of a better word IGNORANT.

    What I find comical is the Cavs and their fans think they are even close to being on the same level as the Heat. Their over-the-top celebration of this win is the equivalent to celebrating the time being right on a broken clock twice a day. The Cavs and their fans should savor this momentary thrill of victory which has eluded them 58 times this season. In the end they will be watching the playoffs at home like the rest of us for years to come.

  12. thetooloftools - Mar 30, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    LeBron James missing the introductions because he “had to use the bathroom” was just another example of how big of a punk he really is.
    I didn’t see him miss ANY introductions in Cleveland when he was tossing chalk in the air and fans were screaming so loud you couldn’t hear yourself think.
    He is a big baby who just wanted another “look what I can do moment”.
    He obviously never had a male role model in his life because he has no idea how to man up.
    It’s just another example of him making another stupid “decision”.
    No wonder her gear is just sitting on store shelves.

    • hnirobert3 - Mar 30, 2011 at 1:54 PM

      Apparently, he missed the introductions a few weeks ago at home vs. the Spurs. Take it for what it’s worth.

      • purdueman - Mar 30, 2011 at 2:02 PM

        I will take it for what it’s worth… just further proof that La Bum is indeed a bum! Without the paying fans, he’s not worth spit; he just doesn’t seem to get it or really give a damn. Sad.

  13. barklikeadog - Mar 30, 2011 at 8:46 PM

    Another punk move by a punk! I’m so glad I have a dad who didn’t leave me for prison and raised he right. I won’t ever gave LePunk’s millions, but he’ll never have my dad either. I will take my dad every time.

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