Miami Heat (14-10) @ Cleveland Cavaliers (12-9)
Quicken Loans Arena
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Radio : WTAM 1100
Pat Riley / Mike Brown
Gary Payton / Eric Snow
Dwyane Wade / Larry Hughes
James Posey / LeBron James
Udonis Haslem / Drew Gooden
Shaquille O'neal / Zydrunas Ilguaskas
Cleveland Cavaliers Bench
D Jones/D Marshall/L Jackson/S Pavlovic/A Henderson/M Wilks/Z Hamilton
Denver Nuggets Bench
G Fitch/S Anderson/J Kapono/A Walker/A Mourning/E Barron/M Doleac
* LeBron's 30-point streak has ended. Fortunately, it was with a win, a testament of how this team should be run.
* Cavaliers are coming off a great defensive night, holding Denver to 38% from the field and forcing 21 turnovers.
* Cleveland improved to 8-3 at home with the win over the Nuggets on Thursday.
* With Larry Hughes' 6 assists against Denver, the Cavaliers now improve to 9-1 when he dishes out more than 5 dimes.
* Shaq is back, tough as he was after 3 weeks respite from an ankle injury.
* Jason Williams, regularly the starting PG, is out with knee tendinitis. Gary Payton starts in his place, and with that starting job, he's been averaging 40 minutes, 13 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds and a steal a game. He has also been uncharacteristically stepping up from the arc, nailing a trey and a half a game.
* Jason Kapono, a new pickup for the Heat this year, was drafted by Cleveland in 2003, with the 31st pick overall.
* Pat Riley, recently taking over Stan Van Gundy's job, has compiled a perfect 3-0 record since his return to the bench.
* lyXo's Keys to the Game *
* Find a way to slow down Shaq. Double-teaming is an option, but the space is spread out by emerging shooters in James Posey and Gary Payton, never before known for their outside shot. Shaq and Wade provide their teammates with the avenue to shoot 36% from downtown.
* Larry Hughes defense on Wade. Will Eric Snow have to take up the task? We'll see how Mike Brown handles this. Wade has no outside shot, but is one of the best penetrators and dishers in the game. His penetration must be halted.
* We will see the worth of all our bigs this game, the true test against the best big man in the game. Will we regret not signing Jahidi White? Or are 6 fouls enough?
* Our offense will be tough to manage. It will have to be run through Z. Pat Riley will force the slower tempo, so Z is the way to go. Banging with Shaq in the paint, take him outside to the 18 foot mark: that is how we must create the space in the interior and tire him down, lowering his effectiveness.
* I have a feeling we will live and die by the outside shot this game. Tough interior bruisers in Alonzo Mourning and Udonis Haslem will make it plain frustrating for LeBron and Larry to attack the basket. Great perimeter defenders in Wade and Posey will make it even harder to get to the hole.
This is going to be a tough game. They have all the pieces of a great team, and have a great guiding coach. We're still in the learning process. It's how we come together on both ends of the floor, limiting mistakes as much as possible: that's how we will be able to win this ball game.