This is why the Miami Heat needed that one that got away on Wednesday night in Toronto, when Jimmy Butler still was ambulatory.
It is why holding their lead would have been crucial in Friday night’s overtime loss in Washington, when there instead was a one-point loss.
Because this was always going to be a challenging spot on Sunday night in Cleveland, and it proved to very much be that, with a 113-87 loss to the Cavaliers at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse extending the Heat’s losing streak to three and dropping the record to 7-10.
With Bam Adebayo back, but with Butler, Tyler Herro and Gabe Vincent still out, the Heat lacked the wherewithal to hang with an emerging contender in the Eastern Conference and now are on a six-game road losing streak.
“It didn’t feel like we had a lot of juice and pop tonight,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Our activity level was low, focus. Our detail work was not the best.”
Adebayo had his moments in his return, with 21 points in his 27 minutes. But otherwise there was not enough to contend with the Cavaliers’ mix of Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, among others, with Cleveland thriving even in the injury absence of Kevin Love.
“We certainly didn’t have enough energy,” Spoelstra said.
The game effectively was over when the Cavaliers pushed their lead into the 20s midway through the third period.
“A good, old-fashioned ass-kicking,” Heat guard Max Strus said. “Take that one and move on.”
Garland led the Cavaliers with 25 points.
“A tough one for us,” Heat point guard Kyle Lowry said, “I’ll tell you that.”
Five Degrees of Heat from Sunday’s game:
1. Closing time: The Heat trailed 28-27 after the first period, went down 19 in the second, and trailed 59-42 at halftime.
It then further unraveled, with Cleveland’s taking a 95-64 lead into the fourth, at a stage Adebayo had his 21 and no teammate had more than Lowry’s nine.
“They did a good job of taking us out of what we do,” Strus said.
The Heat stood at .350 from the field going into the fourth, compared to the Cavaliers’ .529.
“They took us out of our actions with their physicality,” Spoelstra said.
2. Bam back: Adebayo came out strong after missing the previous two games with a knee bruise, with 10 first-quarter points on 4-of-7 shooting, with the rest of the roster 4 of 14.
Adebayo appeared to mesh well early with Nikola Jovic, who started his third consecutive game, but first alongside Adebayo.
The question with Adebayo’s left knee now is whether he can be pushed through the second night of the back-to-back set, with the Heat on Monday night facing the Minnesota Timberwolves’ big front line of Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns.
Adebayo closed Sunday with six rebounds, finishing 7 of 7 from the line.
“I mean, obviously it felt great to be putting on the uniform again,” Adebayo said.
3. Jovic perspective: While he started, Jovic wound up playing only one more first-half minute than backup power forward Haywood Highsmith and one fewer first-half minute …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment