A win is a win, but beating the Cleveland Cavaliers while LeBron James is resting just doesn’t have the special feeling it could have with him on the floor, especially for the Miami Heat, the team he played for in between his two tenures in Cleveland.
The Heat beat the Cavs 99-84 in a game that was pretty much over after the first half. Kevin Love, the person who should be carrying the team without James (resting) and Kyrie Irving (still out with an injury), scored just 5 points on 2-of-11 from the field. The Heat had an easy time focusing on him and Love might not remember all that well what it’s like being the focal point of an offense, although in terms of wins, it never really worked out all that well for the Timberwolves.
It’s a third straight loss for the Cavaliers. Not yet time to panic, but there’s certainly something wrong after a 13-4 opening. Too many drops in ability during the game and a difficulty to pick up the scoring, the pace and intensity after that. It might be a focus or seriousness problem as James has alluded to a number of times, but it just might be that while Irving is out, the Cavaliers offense just isn’t varied and unpredictable enough.
The Heat are now 12-6, one game ahead of the Cavaliers. Being healthy was the key for them last season and it didn’t work out. This year, so far, there seems to be a bit more spark in their game, with Erik Spoelstra making the right choice of putting Gerald Green (at least while Luol Deng is out) in the lineup to make it a three-guard unit alongside Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic, while Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside make a formidable big man duo that has a nice outside-inside ring to it.
The Cavaliers will bounce back from this, and resting James from time to time might be disappointing to opponents and away fans, but its necessary, especially when the entire team is relying on him to carry them. With Irving or not, this is still LeBron’s team at almost every aspect, and if it means taking a loss so he doesn’t wear out before we reach Christmas, that’s just a price the team has to pay.