Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Miami Heat Preview and Pick

Cleveland Cavaliers -4 (46-12) at Miami Heat +4 (31-27) O/U 186 Monday March 2, 2009
By Jason Green at

Tonight the Cleveland Cavaliers head south to take on the Miami Heat. The Cavs had a golden opportunity to pick up some games on the Celtics and pad their lead as the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, but it may be harder now as big Ben Wallace may miss the rest of the regular season with a broken leg. The Heat are currently in the 5th position in the East and want to have a solid second half of the season in order to host a first round playoff match up. Even with the injury to Wallace the Cavs are playing well, as they have won 2 in a row and are 7-3 in their last 10, while the Heat are coming off a win and are 5-5 in their last 10 games. This game may be a preview of a second round playoff series.

This season the Heat are 20-10 at home and the Cavs are 20-11 on the road.

The Cavs are posted at -145 as away favorites and the Heat are posted at +125 as home dogs.

The Cavs come into this game after squeaking by the Atlanta Hawks yesterday 88-87. King James was the high scorer for the Cavs in that game going for 26 points on 8/20 shooting and also dishing out 11 assists. For the game the Cavs shot 33/74 for a FG% of 44.6%. On D the Cavs allowed the Hawks to shoot 31/74 for a FG% of 41.9%.


The Heat come into this game after beating the New York Knicks 120-115 on Saturday night. The high scorer in that game for the Heat was, shocker, Dwayne Wade putting up 46 points on 16/29 shooting including a perfect 12/12 from the charity stripe. For the game the Heat shot 48/99 for a FG% of 48.5%. On D the Heat allowed the Knicks to shoot 38/78 for a FG% of 48.7%.

Cleveland ranks 12th in points scored this season (100 ppg) and even though the Heat have the leagues high scorer in Dwayne Wade they only rank 23rd (96.8 ppg). On D is where the Cavs are a beast, ranking 1st in points allowed (90.4 ppg), while the Heat rank a respectable 11th (96.9 ppg). The Cavs are a much better rebounding team this season, as they have a rebounding differential of +3.2 rpg, while the Heat are only at -3.2 rpg.

This season the Cavs are the best team in the NBA to bet on, in terms of against the spread, as they are 36-20-1 ATS, while the Heat are 26-31-1. In terms of Over/Under games the Cavs are 25-32 and the Heat are 29-27-2.

On the injury front the Cavs are banged up, as PF Ben Wallace and SG Sasha Pavlovic are Out and Delonte West is day-to-day, while the Heat are relatively healthy with their only significant injury being SF James Jones, who is day-to-day.

To say that the Cavs need to contain Dwayne Wade (29 ppg) in order to be successful is an understatement, as Wade has scored or assisted on 59% of Miami’s baskets in their last 4 games.

Even though Wade is obviously the Heat’s best player the game may come down to how newly acquired Jermaine O’Neal (13.6 ppg) plays. In the Heat’s last 5 games they have gone 3-2 and in their 3 wins O’Neal has scored at least 14 points, but in their 2 losses he scored 6 points and 8 points respectively.

With Wallace out until the post season Anderson Varejao (8.2 ppg 6.9 rpg) will have to step up on the defensive end.

The Heat do not have good interior D and they will have their hands full with Cavs C Zydrunas Ilgauskas (13.5 ppg 7.6 rpg), especially since Wallace is out.

Since the Cavs are so good on defense Wade will need some help on offense, as O’Neal, Michael Beasley (13.3 ppg) and Udonis Haslem (10.7 ppg) have to find a way to score tonight.

The Heat cannot only focus on containing James, as Delonte West (12.5 ppg) and Mo Williams (17.5 ppg) can fill it up as well, especially when teams focus on James.

The Heat can really gain some confidence with a home win over the Cavs, who they meet later in the week in Cleveland and may meet them in the playoffs as well.

Jason’s Pick: I like the Heat at home at +4.