The Cleveland Cavaliers extended their league-best nine-game winning streak with a 108 to 97 win over the Miami Heat Tuesday evening during NBA TV’s Players Only broadcast. The Cavaliers took a resounding lead early in the game and maintained their dominance throughout the game.
Both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have storied histories with the Heat, and like previous occasions when the players have faced off against their former team, there has been an aura of emotion in the arena.
Love's strong start
Cleveland jumped out of the gates with a huge first quarter, outscoring Miami 35-24. Kevin Love was instrumental in pushing the Cavaliers to their massive lead, dropping 22 points in the game’s opening quarter. Love is known for his first quarter outbursts, being one of the league’s best, particularly when the Cavaliers make a point to feed him early on in the game. ESPN’s Dave McMenamin noted that Love holds the NBA record for first quarter points, scoring 34 against the Portland Trailblazers just over a year ago on Nov. 23, 2016.
Love continued his reign leading into the second quarter, where he added another 10 points to his stat line to push his game-high total to 32 in the first half. James also pushed his game totals in the second quarter, where his first half 16 points and 10 rebounds paired with Love’s incredible 32 allowed the Cavaliers to jump out to a monstrous 75-49 first-half lead.
Cleveland would refuse to let their foot off the gas in the third quarter, where they maintained their double-digit lead throughout, keeping it above 20 for a good portion of the third.
James gets tossed
Although the Cavalier lead was comfortable, a scare came late in the third, where with just under two minutes remaining in the quarter, James was ejected for the first time in his career. The ejection came after James complained to official Kane Fitzgerald about a no-call on a drive to the basket. James began complaining after missing the shot and was immediately tossed for the first time in 1,082 regular season games, according to ESPN. Although the Cavaliers led 93-70 at this point in the game, Miami did make a short run following the ejection to narrow the large lead.
That run did not last long, however, as Wade’s bench performance allowed the Cavaliers to withstand Miami’s brief run. Miami was able to cut the final deficit to 11. However, by this point, the game was as good as done.
Love ended the game with 38 points and nine rebounds, while James finished his shortened night with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Wade, J.R. Smith, and Kyle Korver also padded Cleveland’s point total, scoring 17, 12, and 11 respectively.
Bright spots for Miami
What ended up being a bad night for the Heat, Dion Waiters, a former Cavalier, led the team in scoring with 21 points. Bam Adebayo added 19 points off the bench for Miami.
The Cavaliers currently sit in the third spot in the Eastern Conference with a 14-7 record following this ninth straight win, while the Heat dropped to .500 at 10-10, currently sitting in the eight spot in the conference.
Cleveland will play their next game on the road against the Atlanta Hawks this Thursday, while Miami will cap off their back to back in the Big Apple tomorrow night against the New York Knicks.