Nothing good ever happens in this place on Lake Erie.
The Heat most certainly believes those words now after its second game this season in the city that stole back LeBron James. Two trips here and two blowouts and this latest loss, a demoralizing 114-88 defeat, included a scary fall for Dwyane Wade in the second half that sent him hobbling off the court and to the locker room.
With Wade hurt again, this now truly feels like a season on the brink for a team that has advanced to the NBA Finals for four consecutive seasons but now might miss out of the playoffs completely.
The Heat has lost five of its last seven games and now travels to Detroit with Wade hurting, Hassan Whiteside injured, Luol Deng gimpy, Udonis Haslem sick, Chris Andersen less than healthy, Michael Beasley in pain and Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts and Shabazz Napier either watching from the bench in suits or back in Miami recovering from surgery. The loss to the Cavaliers dropped the Heat (34-41) into a tie with the Boston Celtics for eighth in the Eastern Conference standings. The Charlotte Hornets are one back in the loss column.
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Wade went down with 6:25 left in the second quarter and the Heat trailing by 21 points. Miami was grossly overmatched from the opening tip despite the Cavaliers playing without power forward Kevin Love (sore lower back). With Love out, Cavs coach David Blatt gave former Heat player and Miami native James Jones his second start of the season, and, as if following a script, Jones made the first basket of the game, a three-pointer, of course. He finished with six points.
Wade left the game with seven points after averaging 31.5 points per game against the Cavaliers in his first two games against James’ new-old team. Wade didn’t play in the Heat’s first game in Cleveland this season, and maybe he should have rested for this one, too. He missed shootaround due to a stomach illness, but played despite a mostly sleepless night and pregame concerns about his hydration level.
“I hit the inside of my knee when I went down, so that’s all I feel,” Wade said. “I don’t know what I’m going to wake up with, but I just feel pain on the inside of my knee where I hit the court.”
James said after the game that he checked on Wade’s condition during halftime and was told Wade had a bone bruise.
“I just happened fast,” Wade said. “I slipped. I came down very awkwardly and banged the inside of my knee on the court and that was that.”
The fear now, of course, is that Wade’s bothersome left knee will swell overnight to the point that he cannot play against the Pistons on Sunday. It was a scary slip on the court that sent Wade to the ground in the second quarter. His left knee landed hard on the floor during the fall and Wade grimaced in pain on the court before being helped first to the bench and then to the locker room.
Wade had fluid drained from his knee last Saturday in the hopes of getting the Heat into the playoffs. The Heat was in seventh place in the East entering the game, which gave the final meeting of the season between these two rivals a playoff feel. On Friday morning, James said he would like to play the Heat in the first round, and the Heat welcome that as well. If the playoffs started today, though, the Heat would open against the first-place Atlanta Hawks.
"It’d be good for the fans, for sure," James said. "And it will be good for me and D-Wade, just being two guys that love to compete.”
The Heat and Cavaliers split their four games against each other this season with the Heat winning both games at home. The victory over the Cavaliers on Christmas Day could be considered the highlight of the season for the Heat.
Deng, back in the lineup following his knee injury, had 17 points and eight rebounds. Whiteside, playing once again with a wrap around his injured hand, also had 17 points and eight rebounds. Whiteside has been playing with 10 stitches between the middle and ring fingers of his right hand after slicing his hand on the rim against Milwaukee nearly two weeks ago.
Tyler Johnson had 11 points off the bench for the Heat and reserve James Ennis had 12 points. Johnson could start in place of Wade on Saturday. The Heat shot 42.7 percent from the field and was out-rebounded 43-36.
James and Kyrie Irving, playing with an illness, led the Cavaliers (49-27) with 23 points each. Tristan Thompson had eight points and 15 rebounds off the bench.