Heat look to keep cooking against Cavaliers
The Miami Heat are off to their best 10-game start since the Big Three Era in 2013-14, and they've done it by overcoming injuries and absences to their lineup.
The Heat look to keep the temperature on high Thursday when they visit the Cleveland Cavaliers, whom they swept in a four-game season series in 2018-19.
"Just finding a way to win," center Bam Adebayo told the Miami Herald after recording 18 points and a season-high 14 rebounds in the Heat's 117-108 victory over Detroit on Tuesday.
"I feel like we relaxed when we got up big and that's when they started to come back, so fighting against adversity is a good thing for us and it's a learning process. It's early. It's the first 10 games and we need that adversity. You need that type of adversity for the beginning of the year, so as the season goes on, we'll be ready for it."
Adversity has come in various forms for Miami, which has seen forwards Derrick Jones Jr. and Justise Winslow encounter various injuries and shooting guard Dion Waiters suspended for 10 games.
Jimmy Butler, who missed the first three games while on paternity leave, scored 11 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter versus the Pistons. The star swingman also had a season-high 13 assists, three rebounds, two steals and zero turnovers.
"He just really controlled the entire game in the fourth quarter offensively for us," coach Erik Spoelstra said of the 30-year-old Butler. "He choreographed basically every action. Either we got him in the middle against the zone or had him handle up top versus the man or zone going down the stretch. He just reads the game and plays the right way, even when there's some stress and pressure and some tough possessions and the momentum shifting.
"It's a great luxury that we certainly don't take for granted. To be able to put the ball in somebody's hands and you know you're going to get something good in a possession."
Cleveland appeared to be in line for something good as it flirted with its first three-game winning streak dating back to the LeBron James days, however Kevin Love's 3-point attempt rimmed out in the waning moments of Tuesday's 98-97 loss to Philadelphia.
"I'm still in disbelief," Love said. "I knew when it left my hand, I thought it was good, everyone on the team thought it was good. That's why I just threw my hands on the top of my head.
"It's like one of those feelings where you expect everyone to be rah rah and then we get a stop at the other end and we win the game. Then you come in here, sit in this corner and feel how I'm feeling. Couldn't ask for a better shot."
Jordan Clarkson's season-high 20 points matched Love on Tuesday while Tristan Thompson posted his eighth double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Cavaliers.
"People don't expect much from us," Thompson said, via Cleveland.com. "We just have to keep showing everyone and showing the rest of the league that when you come and play against us, you're going to come for a dogfight."
--Field Level Media
Updated November 13, 2019