Bickerstaff’s Cavs visit Heat
The Miami Heat look to return to their winning ways at home after another disappointing road trip, which has become a major problem for the Eastern Conference team.
Atlanta’s Trae Young torched the Heat for a career-high 50 points in the Hawks’ 129-124 home win Thursday night, leaving Miami to wonder what it has to do to improve when playing away from comfy South Beach.
The Heat return home to host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday in the teams’ third meeting. Then they will turn around and play in Cleveland Monday night to finish the season series.
While the Heat are 22-3 at home, they sport just a 13-17 road mark. After Saturday night’s game, Miami heads to Cleveland before opening a five-game homestand next Wednesday.
“I think at home, we’re tough, because we guard and we also make shots,” Miami’s Jimmy Butler said. “But on the road we just tend to leave our defense behind.”
Miami earned big wins in the previous two meetings, convincingly defeating the Cavs by margins of 20-plus points each time.
Kendrick Nunn scored 23 points to lead the Heat to a 108-97 victory at Cleveland on Nov. 14. Six days later in Miami, Heat sharpshooter Duncan Robinson set a club record with seven 3-pointers in the second quarter — draining eight overall in the first half — and tallied a career-best 29 points in the Heat’s 124-100 win.
Robinson, who played three seasons at Michigan under former Cleveland coach John Beilein, totaled nine treys on the night.
Cleveland played its first game in the post-Beilein era Friday night, defeating the host Washington Wizards 113-108. The Cavs — mired in last place in the Eastern Conference with a 15-40 mark — are trying to get everything pointed in the right direction.
Guards Collins Sexton (team-high 25 points) and Darius Garland (15) combined for 40 points as the Cavs rallied in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Wizards 32-21. Cleveland used a 26-16 run to close out the final 9:08 to nab the victory.
Beilein signed a five-year contract with the Cavs last May but resigned earlier this week after coaching just 54 games in the NBA. The club named associate coach J.B. Bickerstaff to replace Beilein.
Beilein became just the third first-year head coach since 1990 to coach the season opener and not finish the season — joining San Antonio’s Jerry Tarkanian (1992-93) and Philadelphia’s Randy Ayers (2003-04).
Cleveland forward Kevin Love said the rebuilding Cavs could learn from Beilein’s character and the way the coach went out — announcing his decision to his team before going public with it.
“For him to come in and do that and look us all in the eye, and acknowledge that integrity and willingness, that’s big,” Love said. “That’s real man s— right there. So I respect him for coming in and doing that because he didn’t have to.”
Field Level Media