In a matchup of two of the East’s best teams, the Miami Heat take the floor tonight to do battle with the Cleveland Cavaliers! Both teams are looking to make a push going into the playoffs, so they will both look to get a win tonight in what has become a furious race to the finish in the East. The Heat currently sit at #4 behind Atlanta, but are being chased by both Boston and Charlotte for home-court advantage in the first round.
Miami comes into the game having alternated wins and losses in their last six contests, which is not what they wanted. They are a team that is trying to establish their identity after changing up their style of play from their usual slow style to a more up-tempo, ball-pushing style. The Cavs have also played well recently now that they have their roster more in tact. LeBron is playing at a high level, while Kevin Love has finally begun to find his niche within the offense.
This should prove to be a very good game, so let’s take a look at my keys to the Heat winning.
- Don’t just defend LeBron: When you play against a player like LeBron, you need to go at him on the offensive end and make him play defense. So if it is either Joe Johnson or Luol Deng, they will need to attack him so that he will not be able to roam on defense and pick off passes. Johnson is a great 1-on-1 player and Deng has given LeBron problems in the past.
- Get back to your identity: This new offensive style has caused to people to forget that the Heat are also an elite defensive team. However, they have been sloppy on that end of the floor in recent weeks, so they will need to get back to that style of defense that everyone is used to. They cannot rely solely on outscoring opponents because that will not work now and especially in the postseason.
- Defend the three-point line: I said it last game, but I will say it again. If you can control the three-point line in today’s game, you will win. Miami needs to make the Cavs take long 2’s from about a step inside the line. With guys like Irving, Love, Smith, Dellevadova, Williams, and so on, the Cava have plenty of long-range weapons. Miami will need to closeout well.
Looking forward to this one.