GameDay Preview: Cavs vs. Heat

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Jarrett Jack
David Liam Kyle/NBAE/GettyImages

Game Summary

The Wine and Gold host the Miami Heat tonight at Quicken Loans Arena. Tipoff is at 7:00 p.m. ET.

Cleveland (26-41) is coming off a 2-1 West Coast trip where they picked up victories over Phoenix (3/12) and Golden State (3/14).

Despite having the second best record in the Eastern Conference, Miami (45-19) enters tonight's matchup having lost five out of their last seven games.

Probable Starters/Injury Report* presented by Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland ClinicCavaliers: PG - Jarrett Jack, SG - Dion Waiters, SF - Luol Deng
PF - Tristan Thompson, C - Spencer Hawes

Heat: PG - Mario Chalmers, SG - Dwyane Wade, SF - Shane Battier
PF - LeBron James, C - Chris Bosh

Status Update: (Cavs) - Carrick Felix, (Left patellar Stress Fracture, Out), Anthony Bennett, (Left Patellar Tendon Strain, Out), C.J. Miles, (Left Ankle Sprain, Questionable), Kyrie Irving, (Left Biceps Strain, Out), Luol Deng, (Left Ankle Sprain, Questionable), Matthew Dellavedova, (Left Ankle Sprain, Questionable)

(Heat) - None to Report

*Subject to change

Head-to-Head Matchup

In the two teams' last meeting on Dec. 14, Cleveland overcame a 19-point deficit and led 100-98 with 4:16 remaining. However, the Heat would go on a 11-1 run to come away with a seven-point victory. Six Cavs scored in double figures as Tristan Thompson tallied 16 points, seven rebounds and one steal in 26 minutes.

Cleveland is 39-54 all-time against Miami including a 26-20 record while playing in their own arena (13-34 Road).

Key to the Game/Key Matchup

Key to the Game

Forcing Tough Shots

Miami has the ability to create easy looks as a result of great floor spacing in their halfcourt offense and an up-tempo style allowing for fastbreak opportunities. Coming into tonight's contest, Miami leads the NBA in field goal percentage, shooting an astounding 50.8% as a team.

Needless to say, the Wine and Gold must work hard on the defensive end in hopes of forcing tough shots while also taking care of the basketball on offense to limit Miami's transition game.

Since Feb. 8, the Cavs are holding teams to the 4th-lowest FG% in the NBA (.434). As a result, they have allowed the 7th-lowest points per game (97.8) during that span.

Key Matchup

Backcourt Battle

With the recent injury to Kyrie Irving, the Wine and Gold will rely on Jarrett Jack and Dion Waiters to carry the Cavaliers backcourt. Jack led a late Cavs run on Sunday night in L.A., scoring seven of the Cavs 10 points to open the fourth quarter as the Wine and Gold trimmed into the Clippers lead. Jack would end up with 12 points on 4-8 (.500) shooting, two rebounds and five assists in 35 minutes.

Since returning to action (six games), Waiters is averaging 15.7 points, while shooting .455 (10-22) from deep, in 25.7 minutes per game. On the season, Waiters is the highest scoring reserve in the Eastern Conference at 14.7 points per game (2nd among all qualified NBA bench players). In two contests against the Heat this season, Waiters is averaging a team-high 20.0 points, including .500 (6-12) shooting from beyond-the-arc, and 4.5 rebounds in 34.0 minutes per game.

Waiters and Jack will have the assignment of slowing down Miami's backcourt led by Dwyane Wade.

Wade is enjoying another solid all-around season, averaging 19.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.9 assists while shooting a career-high 55% from the field.

Where to Catch the Action

TV: FOX Sports Ohio, Radio: WTAM 1100, NBA League Pass Audio, XM & Sirius 217

For live in-game updates, follow @cavs, @CavsJoeG, @CavsFredMcLeod, @MrCavalier34, @CavsJMike and @chones22 on Twitter.

Be sure to check cavs.com for Joe Gabriele's live in-game blog providing instant analysis and game notes. Plus, get into the discussion as die-hard Cavs fans talk about the game on CavFanatic's GameDay Thread.

Programming Note

Tonight, FOX Sports Ohio is airing the Cavs – Heat game (7:00 p.m.) and the Blue Jackets – Hurricanes game (7:00 p.m.). Click here for programming details.

Promotion

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On Deck

After tonight's game, the Cavs host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. ET.