In 2010, LeBron James infamously announced that he was taking his talents to South Beach, leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat; he would win two titles there. In 2014 he returned home, spurning the Heat to join the Cavs once again, winning the title in 2016.
Now James is on the Los Angeles Lakers, but his legacy lives on in some part with the Cavs and the Heat, who meet on Sunday. The Heat were a shot away from the NBA Finals last season but have had a tough start to the year, sitting at 7-9; the Cavs have had an up-and-down year but overall look like a strong team, with a 9-6 record after surviving against the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday.
Betting odds, spread, over/under
At full strength, it’s hard to know which of these two teams Vegas would favor. As it is, the Cavs will be without multiple key bench players, but the Miami Heat will be down much more. With Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro and multiple rotation players out, and Bam Adebayo questionable, the Cavs are a commanding 9.5-point favorites at home. The over/under win total is set to 213.
Cavs injury report
Kevin Love (doubtful, thumb); Dean Wade (out, knee); Ricky Rubio (out indefinitely, knee); Dylan Windler (out indefinitely, ankle)
Cleveland Cavaliers starting lineup tonight
Cavs: Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Lamar Stevens, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen
Opponent: Kyle Lowry, Max Strus, Haywood Highsmith, Caleb Martin, Bam Adebayo
The Cleveland Cavaliers are going to miss Kevin Love and Dean Wade, especially on the offensive end as floor-spacers. Their absence means more minutes to players like Lamar Stevens, Isaac Okoro and Robin Lopez, none of whom are plus shooters. To win while the two are out, the Cavs likely shift into more of a defensive, grind-it-out style.
That should work against a Miami Heat team with will lack its best creators on Sunday. Jimmy Butler is the isolation engine that makes this team go, with Tyler Herro as his undersized understudy; with both out, the burden is put on an aging Kyle Lowry and Bam Adebayo. If Adebayo does play, he will have a tough time orchestrating the offense with Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen smothering him.
On offense, the Cavs will lean on Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland, who look to be figuring out to be great together. Garland in particular is on a tear, with outings of 41 and 51 in his last three games. If Adebayo is out there he will be the deadliest weapon at the center of the Heat’s zone-heavy defense, but there are enough other holes that the Cavaliers’ guards should be able to find space.
The Heat are well-coached, their players fit the system and they shouldn’t be overlooked. That being said, the Cavs have their core four back and healthy, and the new-look starting lineup with Stevens looked good in its first appearance on Wednesday. The glaring red flag here is how the Cavs look closing out the game, their big weakness of the season thus far. If the Cavs have separation late, look for them to cruise; if it gets close, the Heat could surprise.
Prediction: Cleveland 106, Miami 100
HEAT (+9.5), UNDER
What channel is the Cleveland Cavaliers game on?
The “LeBron’s exes” showdown will be on local sports networks. Cleveland fans can watch on Bally Sports Ohio, while those in South Florida can watch on Bally Sports Sun. Everyone else can look to NBA League Pass. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. [full team name] live stream
If you need a live stream, check out FuboTV for a free trial!
Cleveland Cavaliers next games and schedule
Mon, Nov. 21 – Cavs vs Harks
Wed, Nov. 23 – Cavs vs Trail Blazers
Fri, Nov. 25 – Cavs @ Bucks
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change