Miami Heat (11-8) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (7-10)
Offensive Efficiency: Miami 107.5 (6th) vs. Cleveland 99.0 (28th)
Defensive Efficiency: Miami 98.8 (4th) vs. Cleveland 105.1 (18th)
Pace: Miami 93.4 (21st) vs. Cleveland 95.3 (14th)
The Heat are going to be playing five-on-six tonight, and that’s the key to the game. The longer the game stays close or the Cavs have the lead, the louder the crowd is going to get and the bigger the chances the Heat will fold become. The Heat are a jump-shooting team still figuring out how to play with one another — they do not want to have to perform under pressure.
I have a bad feeling that LeBron is going to go into destruction mode tonight and start attacking the rim, and I have a worse feeling that the Cavs aren’t going to be able to stop him if he does. This team has struggled to stop penetration, protect the paint and guard wings all year long, and that is not a good thing with LeBron and Wade coming to town. Still, it might just take a couple of stops or a couple of missed jumpers for LeBron to lose confidence and start deferring/launching jumpers. The first quarter is going to be crucial in this one.
I actually feel good about the Bosh/Varejao matchup. Andy should be able to contest Bosh’s jumpers, and he will make CB4′s life miserable every time he steps foot in the paint or goes for a rebound.
I don’t see how the Cavs can possibly contain Wade. Fortunately, the Heat have done a pretty good job of containing Wade and James all by themselves this season. Hopefully that continues.
Offensively, the Heat defend the paint well and are very mobile on the perimeter. The matchup to exploit is Mo vs. Arroyo — Mo should be able to beat Arroyo off the dribble and hit some jumpers before the bigs can step up to contest. Moving the ball will be so important — I actually think the crowd will help the Cavs a lot if it becomes a jump shooting contest because of the confidence factor. Pack the paint and force the Heat to make shots with the crowd dying to see them fail.
Alright, that’s all for now. I’m ready for this thing to get started already. I’ll be doing the dime, so stop by and say hi.