Preview: Heat look to overtake Love-less Cavs in East standings
TV: FOX Sports Sun
TIME: Pregame coverage begins at 7 p.m.
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Kevin Love scored 38 points the last time the Cavaliers played the Miami Heat.
He’ll score zero in the rematch Wednesday because of a broken bone in his left hand suffered Tuesday in Cleveland’s 125-114 loss to the Detroit Pistons.
“Guys have to step up and be ready to play,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. “Everyone has to play better. I have to coach better. Everyone has to be better. Especially when you lose a significant piece like that. I’m sure the guys will be up for the challenge. It’s going to be a tough task but we can handle it.”
Love was removed from the game Tuesday with 7:19 left in the first quarter and did not return. An X-ray showed a non-displaced fracture of the fifth metacarpal on his left hand, according to the team, and his status would be updated Wednesday.
This could be the second consecutive year Love misses the All-Star Game because of injury. He had his knee scoped days before the All-Star Game last year.
The Cavs, meanwhile, are scuffling, owners of a 5-8 record in January and sitting only a half-game ahead of the Heat for third place in the East.
“It’s a huge blow for our team, obviously,” LeBron James said. “Anytime you lose an All-Star or you lose anybody, part of your crew, it’s a tough blow. We’re already limited in our bigs anyway. We’ll be getting a lot smaller now. At the end of the day, we hope for a speedy recovery for Kev and he can get back on the floor as soon as he can. But it’s a tough blow for us.”
Lue said he may fill Love’s spot based on matchups.
The Heat will start Hassan Whiteside at center and likely James Johnson at power forward. Johnson is 6-6, so Lue could counter with Jae Crowder (also 6-6) and bring Channing Frye off the bench.
Dwyane Wade, the former Heat legend who missed the previous two games mourning the death of his agent and close friend Henry Thomas, scored 18 in his return Tuesday and may play again Wednesday. The Cavs announced he was dealing with a left shoulder issue before the game.
The Heat have won two straight. Miami was beaten 108-97 by the Cavs on Nov. 28 but trailed by as many as 34 points in the game.
“I fully expect them to have it running by the time the second half of the season is in full swing. Playoff time, those guys will be up and running,” said Heat forward Udonis Haslem, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “They’ve got the talent. They’ve got the experience. They’ve got the coaching staff. They just got to put it together.”
Goran Dragic leads Miami with 17 points per game but scored only 18 combined in his last two contests. Whiteside (14.6 points, team-high 11.9 rebounds) is coming off a monster game when he recorded 25 points and 14 boards in Monday’s 95-88 victory at Dallas.
James registered 21 points, seven assists and six rebounds Tuesday.