CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (8-39)
at MIAMI HEAT (33-14)
Tip-off: Monday, 7:30 p.m. EDT
Line: Miami -17.5, Total: 202
The Miami Heat return home on Monday for a short one-game homestand to take on the once LeBron-led Cleveland Cavaliers, losers of 20 straight games. Miami played with their big three on Sunday for the first time since January 12 when the Heat’s recent struggles and injuries began. James gets another shot at the Cavaliers whom he has defeated in both meetings this season. Odds.
Miami has struggled ATS overall this season posting a 21-24 record, including an awful 7-14 ATS at home and 2-6 mark over their past eight home games. Prior to their loss to the Clippers on January 12, the Heat had won 21 of their previous 22 games. Since then they are 3-5 (2-5-1 ATS), but have won their last two SU. The big three for the Heat each scored 20 points in a game for the 11th time this season in Sunday’s 108-103 win at Oklahoma City. The Heat are 9-2 in those games. Dwyane Wade returned to action after missing Friday’s game against Detroit and scored 32 points. He has scored 30 or more in nine of his past 13 games, averaging 30.5 PPG over that span. Chris Bosh returned to action for the first time since January 15 and poured in 20 points and seven boards, while LeBron James scored 23 and dished out 13 assists. After scoring 38 points in the Heat’s 118-90 blowout win at Cleveland on December 2, James scored 21 and pulled down 13 boards in Miami’s 101-95 win at home on December 15. Since returning to action after missing the Jan. 15 game at Chicago, James is averaging 31.6 PPG, 8.8 RPG and 8.0 APG in that five-game span. Scores.
The Cavaliers fans were expecting a bit of a dropoff after the departure of the reigning two-time MVP, but hardly could have expected this kind of collapse. After a win over the Memphis Grizzlies, Cleveland sat with a record of 7-9 and preparing for a pair of tough home games against the Celtics and Heat. They lost big to the Celtics, but the much-anticipated game was coming against the defector and the Heat on December 2. All of Cleveland was waiting for this day since LeBron stabbed them in the back in a national announcement on ESPN in July. What occurred that night has affected Cleveland to this day as their 28-point washout ruined the evening for many fans wanting to get revenge. Cleveland has won just one game since, going 1-30 SU. The Cavs have fared better ATS than SU, but that’s hardly a compliment. They are 16-29 ATS, which numbers stretch into double-digits for most of their games. They are 10-15 ATS on the road, but are 3-0-1 in their past four road games ATS. They have lost a single-season franchise record 20 straight games SU and are coming of a 103-87 loss at Orlando. They have also lost 23 straight road games SU – also a club record – with their last road win coming against New Jersey on November 9. Daniel Gibson scored 26 points in the Cavs loss at Miami on December 15, but has been struggling lately, averaging just 7.7 PPG in his past three games. He did not start on Sunday against the Magic as coach Byron Scott inserted rookie Manny Harris instead. Harris was the only starter who reached double figures with 20 points. Samardo Samuels scored a career-high 16 points coming off the bench on Sunday. After reaching double-figures in points just once in his first 13 games of his rookie season, he has now reached double-figures in two of his past three games. Las Vegas odds.
It’s hard to fathom a team in the NBA being 18 points worse than its opponent, but the 2010-11 version of the Cavaliers compared to the same year’s Miami Heat certainly does fit that mold. However, this is a great test for the Cavs to see how much fight they have left in them. If they get blown out again against a Heat team dealing with their own injury issues, then they will never be heard from again this season. Miami is just 3-8-1 ATS as a double-digit favorite this year and I’m guessing that the Cavs will muster up enough pride and heart to only lose this game by 10-to-15 points. I’m taking Cleveland with the large heaping of points. The FoxSheets advises to:
Play On – Road underdogs of 10 or more points (CLEVELAND) – avenging a road loss vs. opponent, with a losing record. (106-56 over the last 5 seasons.) (65.4%, +44.4 units. Rating = 3*).