Miami Heat to Face LeBron James Before All-Star Break


Tonight’s game between the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers is the second regular-season matchup against LeBron James since he rejoined his former team. Check out the start time, TV info, preview and more.

Start Time: 8:00 p.m. EST
Location: Game will be played in Cleveland at the Quicken Loans Arena
Radio: 104.3 The Ticket

It’s strange how things change over the course of the regular season. When these two teams faced each other less than two months ago on Christmas Day – and even during a preseason meeting in Brazil – the drama of facing LeBron James with his new team was riveting.

When the two teams meet on Wednesday night in a nationally-televised game, the only important thing for the Heat to focus on is winning a game before the All-Star break.

There’s no denying that James is a motivating factor, although I struggle to call it “revenge.” Rather, he’s a former teammate that has achieved some success and is playing exceptionally well as of late. Knocking off the Cavaliers is more about proving that Miami is still a legitimate threat in the Eastern Conference.

It’s a tougher challenge than expected with the absence of Dwyane Wade. Confirmed yesterday afternoon, Wade will sit out the Cavs game and won’t participate in the upcoming All-Star game, although he’s traveling with the team and joining Chris Bosh in New York.

If Miami is to pull off the upset, Bosh will likely lead the way. He’s coming off one of the best performances of the season, a 32-point outburst against the lowly Knicks on Monday.

Still, Miami’s best hope of knocking off the Cavaliers is Hassan Whiteside. When these played last, Whiteside had eight scoreless minutes, picking up as many rebounds as he did fouls (two) and turnovers (one) combined. He’s a vastly different player and the Heat have figured out how to utilize his size and athleticism around the rim. Cleveland has improved in the middle as well, however, with the midseason acquisition of Timofey Mozgov from Denver. Mozgov’s numbers aren’t overwhelming on the surface, but he provides tough defense, rebounding and rim protection, something lacking before his arrival. It’s no coincidence that the team has gone 13-1 in a recent stretch.

Cleveland also brought in J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert to bolster their reserve unit. Smith has become an athletic spot-up shooter with the Cavs, something he never was in New York. He’s thriving and providing a big boost. Shumpert’s defense and tenacity has been a welcome addition for a team considered soft to start the season.

Of course, the team will only go as far as LeBron James takes them. He’s dominated since returning from injury, perfectly coinciding with the big moves made by Cleveland’s front office. The team is rolling, using it’s depth and versatility to pair superstars with complementary role players.

It’s a reminder of what Miami had over the last four seasons and one that will be painfully obvious to watch tonight.

The good news is that the trip down memory lane will be a short lived one. Whiteside’s emergence and Miami’s struggles have become the main focus for team and its fans.

When you spend all season hoping to just stay healthy and get a win, it leaves you little time for nostalgia.

Check back with All U Can Heat after the game for player grades, a full recap, analysis and more.

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