The Cleveland Cavaliers were out of gas.
They played the red-hot Philadelphia 76ers on the road on Tuesday night, a short-handed win over the reigning MVP and a team that had been nearly unstoppable thus far this season. The game went to overtime, with multiple players cracking 40 minutes. The Cavs then had to fly straight home to Cleveland to host the Miami Heat the following night, the Heat having had the day off on Tuesday to leisurely make their way to Northeast Ohio.
That made the result of the game disappointing but not unexpected. It was what many analysts call a "schedule loss." The Cavaliers started out flat, going down 16-2 to the Heat, and they would never recover. Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff waved the white flag early, letting a group of youngsters play the entire fourth quarter. Cleveland ultimately lost 129-96 to the defending East champions.
The Cavaliers just didn't have it
The Cavs were unlucky to lose by 33 points, as the Heat shot a blistering 20-for-35 from deep, 57.1 percent. Yet many of those looks were wide open shots as the Cavaliers' defenders were slow to react. Kyle Lowry shot 7-for-10 from deep en route to a game-high 28 points, while Heat rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. pitched in 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field. Missing All-Star big man Bam Adebayo didn't slow them down one bit.
The Cavaliers were down multiple key players of their own, including Donovan Mitchell and Dean Wade, and it showed. It was a complete drubbing by Miami, but there is still information to be gleaned from the contest. Here are players who stood out, for good or for ill, in Wednesday's loss.