MIAMI, FL - FEBRUARY 07: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat drives on Alonzo Gee #33 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during a game at American Airlines Arena on February 7, 2012 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
The Miami Heat take their final home game against the Cleveland Cavaliers before hitting the road for six straight games.
The Miami Heat have a prolonged six-city tour of the Eastern Conference starting Wednesday night, but before they set sail (the Heat travel in a yacht, even to places like Milwaukee, right?) they had to take care of the Cleveland Cavaliers at home in Miami. And they took care of 'em, all right. Cleveland's starters kept them in the game, but their second unit players simply could not hang with those of Miami, culminating in a 107-91 Heat win.
For most of the way, Antawn Jamison, Anderson Varejao and Kyrie Irving kept Cleveland afloat. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade repeatedly pushed the ball in transition to get quick Miami buckets, but those Three Cavaliers (isn't that the title of that Tony Dumas novel?) responded with efficient scoring from inside and out, led by Jamison, who'd finish with 25.
It was Miami's second unit -- essentially Chris Bosh and four bench guys -- that gave them their first big lead. Against a short-handed (no Daniel Gibson, Tristan Thompson, or Anthony Parker) and woefully inaccurate (4-23 from the field) Cleveland bench group, Bosh, Udonis Haslem and the rest of the Heat reserves widened the gap to as much as nine, only to see a three-man attack of Jamison, Irving and Alonzo Gee cut it to six before halftime.
In the second half, it was a similar pattern, with both teams' starters drawing pretty much even until the over-matched Cleveland bench took the floor in the fourth. This time, the Heat used an 8-0 run to extend the lead to double digits, and never really looked back the rest of the way. Erik Spoelstra's signature game-finishing "Big 5" lineup of James, Wade and Bosh joined by Mike Miller and Haslem closed things out for Miami once more, ending the night with another burst of seven straight points to produce the wide final margin.
All in all, it was a fine team-wide performance for the Heat, a nice outing for both Wade (26 points) and James (24 against his former team, though Cleveland hardly harbors any familiar faces from his time there), and a solid send-off for their lengthy Eastern trip.
The win moved Miami to 19-6, just one game behind Chicago for the best record in the East, while Cleveland fell to 9-14 overall.