LeBron, Cavs show Heat who's really hot
CLEVELAND -- Random dribbles from the Cavaliers' 113-93 smashing of the visiting Miami Heat on Wednesday:
1. On nights like these, it's easy to envision the Cavs really going places. For the most part, the ball moved, the defense did the dirty work, and the Cavs simply cruised. Even when the Heat cut a 26-point deficit to 12, you just knew the Cavs would win. The only question was by how much.
2. Best of all for the Cavs, this type of performance is becoming the norm. The numbers say they've won 14 of 15 and are 25-1 when scoring at least 102. But those are just numbers. When it comes to this team, all you need lately is a simple eye test. If the Cavs aren't the best team in the league right now, they're way up there.
3. Things are going so well, it's hard to remember that LeBron played for the Heat for the past four years. This was supposed to be an emotional night for him. But he took the drama out of it by exiting for good with 7:00 left in the game. At the time, the Cavs led 97-77 and James finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
4. For just the second time all season, a whopping seven Cavs reached double figures in scoring. That included Timofey Mozgov, who scored a season-high 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting.
5. The 7-foot-1 center has also been a Russian missile defensively, swatting and altering nearly everything and every opponent that dares enter the paint. He compiled two blocks and about 17 scares for the Heat near the rim.
6. Cavs coach David Blatt on Mozgov: "I thought he was a pretty easy fit into our team to begin with. His transition has been smooth, and is playing with the kind of passion and energy that our team needed when Andy (Varejao) went down."
7. As for the Cavs' overall ball movement and ability to completely shut down the Heat, Blatt had this to say: "If you want to be a top-level team, you gotta be good on both sides of the ball. I thought we showed that tonight."
8. He added: "When you're getting stops and you're running the ball up the court, a lot of guys are going to be involved. Guys were hitting their spots on the break, and I thought our half-court offense was very, very good. We stayed consistent in moving the ball."
9. The Cavs (33-21) also received an underrated 17 points and nine rebounds from Tristan Thompson off the bench. Not enough can be said about how this guy has turned himself into the ultimate hustle player. Thompson finished 7-of-8 shooting and did a nice job defensively on Heat star Chris Bosh (15 points, 5-of-17 from the floor).
10. As you know, Thompson was primarily filling in for Cavs forward Kevin Love, who suffered a right eye injury early in the third quarter. It is officially a right cornea abrasion, per the Cavs. I know a few people who suffered that same injury. They said it's extremely painful, and gauging how Love basically collapsed in front of the Cavs' bench, that sounds about right. Still, my totally clueless medical opinion suspects it's nothing too serious and Love will be back soon. Officially, he will be reevaluated Thursday in Chicago.
11. The Cavs enter Thursday's biggie against the Bulls as the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference standings. They enter the night a half game behind the Bulls, three-and-half behind Toronto and 10 behind Atlanta. After Thursday's game, the Cavs are off until a week from Friday (Feb. 20), thanks to the All-Star break. Eight of their next 10 are on the road, including the first four after the break.
12. Blatt on catching the Hawks: "That's a tall task, specific to Atlanta. We are trying to improve our position and we have. You're gonna see a competitive race for home-court advantage. We're in that race."
13. Bosh on the Cavs: "They have very athletic wings with long arms. They were kind of taking advantage of getting in the passing lanes. Any time we made a run they were able to force a turnover. They're very fast in the open court. It's part of their game plan -- looking for those outlet passes, and it's off to the races. With that and their half-court sets, it's very tough to lock into them."
14. The Heat (22-30) have lost at least 30 games for the first time since 2009-10. Not surprisingly, that's the season before LeBron James joined them. After that, it was four straight trips to the Finals. I may be going out on a limb here, but I don't suspect they'll be back this season. Coach Erik Spoelstra has his guys playing hard, and Bosh and Dwyane Wade are still forces. But the rest of the roster is way too up and down.
15. LeBron on playing the Heat: "It's going to be memories for sure when I see my guys. Any one of the teammates I had when we won a championship, or even lost a championship -- we gave so much to each other. So anytime I see one of those guys, whether they are on the Heat or another team (it's going to be emotional)."
16. Kyrie Irving added 15 points and Iman Shumpert added 13 in perhaps his best all-around game as a Cavalier. "It was one of those games where everyone was clicking," Irving said.
**If media displays don't appear immediately, please click refresh**