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Cleveland Cavaliers

Pregame: Cavs at Heat

By Jason Lloyd Published: January 24, 2012

Cleveland Cavaliers (6-9) at Miami Heat (11-5)
Time: 7:30 p.m.; Venue: AmericanAirlines Arena; TV/Radio: FS Ohio/WTAM, WAKR, WHBC
Cavs probables: PG Kyrie Irving (17.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 4.9 apg); SG Anthony Parker (6.0, 2.4, 2.2), SF Omri Casspi (7.9, 2.9, 1.4), PF Antawn Jamison (15.7, 5.6, 1.5), C Anderson Varejao (9.7, 10.9, 1.5)
Heat probables: PG Mario Chalmers (11.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 4.4 apg), SG James Jones (4.5, 1.4, 0.3), SF LeBron James (29.7, 8.3, 7.3), PF Chris Bosh (20.5, 7.9, 2.1), C Joel Anthony (3.8, 4.8, 0.2)
Injuries: Cavs -- Tristan Thompson (ankle) questionable; Heat -- Dwyane Wade (ankle) questionable
Officials: Tony Brothers, Kevin Fehr, Michael Smith

Notes
* Tristan Thompson was jogging and dribbling this morning at shootaround, but he didn't sound like a guy about to suit up in a game. It wouldn't be surprising if he misses at least this back-to-back with Miami and New York today and tomorrow. Said Thompson: "It's not fractured. If I miss a couple games, that's fine, but the key is to get back healthy and get strong."

* The death in Daniel Gibson's family was on his father's side. It was unexpected and Gibson said the result of a staph infection that the family member ignored, so there was a lot of guilt and grief among other family members. Gibson said he didn't return to Houston, but he made himself available for his grieving aunt and cousins. He said he won't leave the team again for the funeral unless it falls on a scheduled off day. The Cavs will be off Thursday.

* The Cavs want to be more efficient on offense and move the ball around better, but that's dangerous tonight against a lightning-quick Heat team that is second in the league in forcing turnovers (18 per game). Guys have complained about the ball "sticking" on one side of the floor, which typically means guys are dribbling too much. Gibson said a lot of times guys are coming out of a pick-and-roll and trying to make a play with the dribble instead of trying to pass. "We're a better team when we get the ball moving with the pass instead of the bounce," Gibson said.

* Coach Byron Scott said it's important for the Cavs to score in transition, but when they can't and they're forced to go to their half-court offense, it's imperative to get the ball across the court from the strong side to the weak side. "If we can get it from the strong side to the weak side, then look to attack, we're pretty good," Scott said. "But the times we're standing on one side of the floor, or it's one pass and shot or no pass and shots, then we're a below average team."

* Scott said Christian Eyenga was primarily recalled for practice purposes. With Anthony Parker needing time off to rest his ailing lower back, the Cavs were short on wing players. Eyenga can't handle the ball very well, so Scott has always looked at him as strictly a small forward. But Alonzo Gee is a little more capable of playing the guard spot. Either way, Eyenga is still a distant third behind Omri Casspi and Gee at the forward position. As a side note, Scott said Eyenga's recall had nothing to do with Thompson's ankle injury.

* LeBron James was not in a very chatty mood this morning, but he did praise Kyrie Irving for playing much older than his years. "He's not a rookie really. His game is not a rookie's game. He's always in control, plays at his own tempo, he's like a veteran out there."

* James said there shouldn't be any pressure on Irving to try and fill the shoes he vacated when he left for Miami. "They're in a rebuilding stage right now. I don't think he has any pressure. Pressure is created when you compete at a high level. He's going to continue to do things at a high level, that's just the player he is. I don't think he has any pressure. Coach Scott has given him starting job for a reason. He's going out and proving why he should be the starter."

* It only took one year for much of the anguish in this series to disappear. Each time the Cavs have faced the Heat since James' initial return to the Q last December, the tension level has decreased significantly. "It's just another game," James said. "For us, we're just trying to get better every day." I don't believe James will ever view a game against the Cavs as "just another game," but the feeling surrounding this game is nothing like last year.

* Like so many others, including Scott, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra compared Irving's game to that of Chris Paul. "Irving is special. He's unique," Spoelstra said. "You can see his skillset, his ball handling is above what you'd normally see. Speed and quickness are elite, but it's the mind that you notice when you get into the film. He's looking at second layer, third layer, fourth layer when young players are usually looking at that first layer and that's all they can handle at that point. He's quick, but he never looks like he's in a hurry. You see on film he's going by people and making plays, but on film it doesn't look like he's going 100 percent full speed. You realize that's when he's making a lot of reads like Chris Paul makes with his mind. At this stage, I'd compare his mind to that."

* Gibson said he worked out in Cleveland during the lockout with Heat rookie Norris Cole, who was a star at Cleveland State and stayed in town for much of the lockout.

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