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Heat expose Cavaliers’ flaws in 98-79 victory

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The Heat didn’t look like the East’s eighth seed. Cleveland did.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The Miami Heat came out swinging, rocked the Cavaliers right in the mouth, and never let up. Their barrage resulted in a 98-79 victory and an incredibly disappointing loss for the Cavaliers.

Cleveland’s defense is awful. This has been a known fact for a couple of seasons now. But it was their offense that failed them against Miami on Tuesday. The Heat keyed in on LeBron James. They swarmed him on his drives to the rim. All told, Miami held The King to just 18 points on 7-of-18 shooting from the field. James also turned the ball of six times to only seven assists.

The Heat outscored the Cavaliers by 18 with LeBron on the floor.

Miami also took Cleveland’s three-point shot away, holding the Cavaliers to just 4-of-26 shooting from downtown. The Cavaliers stood no chance against the eighth-seeded Heat. I\

Kevin Love’s injury didn’t help. He exited seven minutes into the game after he ate an inadvertent elbow that dislodged his front tooth. It’s unclear if Love will miss extended time due to this injury. The Cavs certainly can’t afford to lose him for long.

Cleveland was thoroughly outplayed on both ends by a team projected to finish eighth in the Eastern Conference. The Cavaliers normally find a way to the NBA Finals, no matter what the regular season looks like. This season has been ugly, and it isn’t getting any prettier.

Here’s how it unfolded:

LeBron’s back, but he might not be enough — 4th quarter, 4:01 left

The Heat are up 89-71 with four minutes left. Doesn’t matter how much of a superhero effort LeBron put up. The Cavs are taking this loss.

End of 3rd quarter: Heat 75, Cavs 59

Miami came out and socked Cleveland square in the mouth. The Cavs haven’t yet recovered. They’re on the ropes in the final period. Sixteen points isn’t that big of a deficit when you have the world’s best player on your team, but one player alone can’t save Cleveland’s atrocious defense. And if the Cavs only got 59 points up through three quarters, it could be curtains for them.

Hey look, issa Cavs highlight

Heat still up big: 3:00 left in 3rd quarter - Cavs 54, Heat 70

The Heat are still scorching the Cavs. Cleveland is still trying to cut into the lead though. LeBron leads all Cavs scorers with 14.

Kind of one sided, isn’t it? - End of 2nd quarter

The Heat have been destroying the Cavs all game. The score is 28-45 and the Cavs are shooting 7-20 from the field. LeBron is leading all Cavs scorers with 6 points.

Meanwhile, the Heat are shooting 10-18 from the field and 4-8 from beyond the arc. The Cavs will need to step up in the 2nd half if they hope to pull out a road win here.

Double Up — 2nd quarter, 9:58 left

LeBron James went to the bench to start the second quarter, and the Cavs look straight up terrible. Dwyane Wade legit just ripped Kevin Love in the low post, leading to a sequence where Cleveland just looked out of sorts on defense before Kelly Olynyk faked someone out and dunked.

Not good stuff here from the Cavs. 36-18, Heat.

End of 1st quarter: Heat 29, Cavs 18

Hard to tell which team is a championship contender and which team is a fringe playoff team at this point. Miami’s held Cleveland to just 38 percent shooting from the field without any threes made. Meanwhile the Heat have eight assists and are moving the ball like a team that knows it takes a group effort to knock off the world’s best basketball player.

Still a lot of time left in this one, but the Cavs need to tighten up if they want to win tonight.

Cavs look sloppy — 1st quarter, 2:54 left

Cleveland trails 17-12, but they’re shooting just 5-of-16 from the field. They also have five turnovers in the first quarter. That doesn’t bode well for their odds at winning, especially if Love’s injury is worse than it appeared.

Kevin Love hurt? — 1st quarter, 10:33 left

Love ate an elbow on Miami’s second possession and immediately checked to see if all his teeth were still in his mouth. Once he got to his feet, he headed straight for the locker room.

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat play each other on Tuesday night, marking the first time LeBron James and Dwyane Wade will play against each other since the Cavaliers traded Wade to Miami at the deadline. James is 15-14 all-time in games he plays against Wade. The matchup offers a chance for Wade to close the gap, while giving James a chance to create some separation.

Cavs vs. Heat also has playoff implications. Both teams are competing for postseason seeding, and a loss for Cleveland would only give them a half-game’s cushion over the surging Philadelphia 76ers. A win for the Heat would tie them with the Milwaukee Bucks for seventh place in the East.