Heat look to improve on road vs. Cavs

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The Cleveland Cavaliers, who have the worst record in the Eastern Conference, will play host to the Miami Heat on Monday night in a rematch game.

Miami whipped the Cavaliers 124-105 on Saturday night, improving to 23-3 at home.

“It’s a beautiful thing we’ve created,” Heat center Bam Adebayo said of Miami’s home-court advantage. “We want to keep it going.”

However, as good as the Heat have been at home, they have struggled on the road, playing to a 13-17 record away from American Airlines Arena.

But the Cavaliers may not be able to take advantage of Miami’s road weakness, considering that Cleveland is just 7-22 at home this season.

Miami has beaten Cleveland eight straight times — regardless of the location — but the Cavaliers are still hopeful.

“We’re going to take a lot of good lessons from here,” Cavaliers forward Cedi Osman said after Saturday’s loss in Miami.

Osman, who led the Cavaliers with 19 points on Saturday, is a 6-foot-8 24-year-old from Macedonia who has shown some potential.

In 2015, he was the first pick of the second round — No. 31 overall — for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who traded him to Cleveland on draft night.

Osman, who has played for Turkey’s national team, has had more than one big game against the Heat. On Jan. 25, 2019, he posted a career-high 29 points in a 100-94 loss to Miami. His scoring average has gone from 3.1 points as a rookie to 13.0 last season and 11.0 in the current campaign.

Guard Collin Sexton, a 6-1 speedster in his second year in the league, leads the Cavaliers in scoring this season (19.8). But Sexton doesn’t have great court vision, and his assist totals are low for a starting point guard – 3.0 last season and 2.8 in the current campaign.

In fairness, Sexton doesn’t have much in the way of passing options on this struggling Cavaliers team. That was especially true on Saturday, when power forward Kevin Love sat out for the second time in three games due to a foot injury.

Love, a five-time All-Star and an NBA champion in 2016, is averaging 17.5 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists.

Miami is also playing shorthanded. Rookie guard Tyler Herro — who has been a terrific shooter off the bench and has lived up to the hype as a first-round pick from the University of Kentucky — and starting power forward Meyers Leonard have each missed seven straight games due to ankle injuries.

In addition, Miami’s top player, five-time All-Star shooting guard Jimmy Butler, missed Saturday’s game due to personal issues.

Butler leads Miami in scoring (20.6), assists (6.2) and steals (1.8). He also makes 83.6 percent from the foul line and attempts more free throws (9.1 per game) than anyone on the Heat.

Without him on Saturday, the Heat didn’t get to the line as much – rookie guard Kendrick Nunn led the way with six free throws.

The Heat, though, still have a lot of firepower, including Adebayo, a versatile player who has emerged as an All-Star in 2019-2020 in his first season as a full-time starter. He is averaging 16.0 points, a team-high 10.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists. He had a team-high nine assists against Cleveland on Saturday.

Nunn is averaging 15.5 points, and Miami’s bench is potent with players such as Goran Dragic (16.1 points, 5.0 assists) and Jae Crowder (16.2 points, 6.0 rebounds).

–Field Level Media

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