This one looked more than dicey as the Cavaliers enter the fourth quarter. The Heat had the lead at 67-58 to end the third and the momentum. For much of the game, the Cavs looked listless.
Then, they just flicked it on. On defense they came up with a couple of memorable stops in the fourth quarter, including one where Delonte West and Mo Williams worked like hell to create a steal. West got the ball and found LeBron James streaking to the basket for an easy slam dunk.
So it went for the fourth quarter as Cleveland remebered they are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA and decided to play that way, forcing five turnovers and holding the Heat to 35 percent shooting.
James deserves some praise for hindering a driving Heat led by Dwyane Wade. In the final quarter, James held him to just six points. Once again they won a game because of defense.
Mike Brown on what was said between the third and fourth quarters:
I don’t know if I said anything special. We just knew we weren’t playing our best basketball. We knew that Miami was doing a heck of a job. But there was plenty of time and we just needed to go play.
LeBron James on guarding Dwyane Wade in the fourth quarter:
I wanted to try to stay in front of him as much as possible. Once he sets in the lane he’s too dangerous when he gets a full head of steam.
At the half:
Cavs 44, Heat 42.
Yeah, this is one of those pretty ones. Cleveland's shooting 41 percent and Miami 39.5. If there is such a thing as a holiday hangover, the Cavs have it. That breezy style of play that helped them zip through the first quarter of the season is is on hiatus. It certainly isn't fair to assume that's how the season would go, but the past few games, teams have played them close.
Shawn Marion said in published reports that he would play James close without drawing fouls. Yeah well, he's only got one foul, but James has 20 points and a couple of continuation plays in the game. Overall, both teams continue to struggle from the floor.
The Heat are beating the Cavs on the boards, in the paint and on second chance points. If they're going to pull this out, they need to wake up from their holiday slumber.
Cavs (25-4) vs. Miami Heat (16-12)
WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Cavs: LeBron James (F); Ben Wallace (F); Zydrunas Ilgauskas (C); Delonte West (G); Mo Williams (G). Heat: Shawn Marion (F); Udonis Haslem (F); Joel Anthony (C); Dwyane Wade (G); Mario Chalmers (G).
Cavs: Eric Snow (knee); Wally Szczerbiak (knee). Miami: James Jones (wrist); Dorell Wright (knee)
Bennett Salvatore, James Capers and Leroy Richardson.
The Cavaliers have won three consecutive against the Heat, five-in-a-row and 15 consecutive at home and remain the only undefeated team in the league in their own place. The Heat have won four consecutive.
Two things to watch:
- Delonte West on Dwyane Wade. West has performed admirably on defense against some of the league's premier shooting guards, but this will very much be his stiffest test. Offensively Wade is completely, he'll drive as well as hit the perimeter shot. West and the rest of the Cavs will have to bring their A-game. Not what they showed the other night.
- LeBron James on Shawn Marion - Power v. Power. Marion has a reputation of being a fierce defender, but James always presents everyone a fierce test. His best bet, blanketing James, but not so much as to draw fouls.