Posted by Matt Moore
That's why they play the games.
The now-15-58 Cleveland Cavaliers got revenge on the player who left them in the most devastating way possible as the Cavs beat LeBron James and the Heat 102-90 in Cleveland Tuesday night.
You couldn't have scripted the performance any better for the Cavs. LeBron James finished 10-21 with 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 assists, with three turnovers. And he had probably the best night of any Heat player. The Cavs played the kind of game you need to play to win a game like this, getting out in transition and knocking down threes. Anthony Parker was 4-4 from downtown, Ryan Hollins and Alonzo Gee received multiple alley-oops from Baron Davis, J.J. Hickson had a double-double with 21 and 12, and Ramon Sessions spelled Baron Davis (who had a throw-back night) with a solid 11-6-6 in 26 minutes.
For the Heat?
The box score is actually kinder to them than the game would suggest... and the box score is an autopsy report. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh combined to shoot 13-34, 8 rebounds, 10 assists, and 4 turnovers. Bosh, in particular, had yet another in a very long line of disappointing performances inside. The game actually turned back in the Cavs' favor after a Heat run when Ryan Hollins blocked Bosh twice on one possession. It was that kind of game. Bosh fell down repeatedly, failed to finish at the rim, and was completely outmuscled by Hickson and Hollins. You know, those dominant beasts of the paint.
This game speaks to the high level of play in the NBA across teams. The worst team in the NBA at the moment, record-wise, the Cleveland Cavaliers, have knocked off the Boston Celtics, the Los Angeles Lakers, the New York Knicks, and now the Miami Heat. The Cavs have a long way to go to rebuild and find themselves back in a place of contention. But until then, Tuesday night will stand as the high point of the season, when the fans got to rally behind a total team effort, against the individual-centric Heat offense and deliver a blow for their pride, for their city, and for the hurt they suffered after "the Decision." Baron Davis wasn't in Cleveland for that, but he was a hero. Ramon Sessions wasn't there, but he was a hero.
The Cavs still lost twice to the Heat this season, once in Cleveland. The Cavs are still the worst team, record-wise, in the NBA. The Heat are still headed to the playoffs and the Cavs to the lottery, James to the second-round, most likely, and the Cavs to vacation in May. But for a night, the Cavs proved that they are professionals, and on any given night, they can compete with the best. That's what makes sports great.
Enjoy the win, Cleveland. You earned it.
Just don't publish the headlines in Comic Sans, okay?
- Bizarre that Mike Bibby would hit 7-11 from the arc for 20 points and the Heat would lose. Usually if they get any contribution like that from a supporting player, they're golden. But then, that doesn't make up for Bosh's 5-14 performance for ten points.
- Also on the bad list? The Heat bench, which contributed just six points on 3-12 shooting, with two turnovers. They were outscored 32-6 by the Cavs' supporting players.
- Anthony Parker, J.J. Hickson, Ramon Sessions, and Daniel Gibson all had more rebounds than Chris Bosh in this game. The Cavs won the rebounding game 44-30. Again, 44-30. Aren't the playoffs all about defense and rebounding?
- The Heat showed that same lack of effort that's doomed them time and time again this season, which they had started to shed recently. Again, the dreaded beast rears its head.
- Dan Gilbert was courtside. And happy. As you'd imagine.
- Though James will (rightfully) get most of the blame and flak from this game, especially after vanishing before the game for introductions, the only real push the Heat made all night was when James starting pressing on the drive. Once he abandoned that strategy, it was over.