Pieces falling into place for Miami Heat ahead of matchup vs. Cavs

By Field Level Media
Apr 1, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Heat guard Victor Oladipo (4) dunks on a fast break during the first quarter of a game against the Golden State Warriors at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat is starting to put all the pieces in place.

The Heat got their first glimpse of Victor Oladipo on the court Thursday during a 116-109 home victory over the Golden State Warriors.

Miami expects to have another key component to its potential winning formula on Saturday night when it hosts the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Heat, who have won three in a row after losing their previous six games, hope to have Goran Dragic back in their rotation after he sat out Thursday to rest his lower back on the second night of a back-to-back.

Starting the process of acclimating Oladipo into their lineup was crucial, however.

Oladipo played only 23 minutes and picked up five fouls but made an impact late and finished with six points, five assists and three rebounds.

“I feel like a couple of the whistles could have gone either way,” Oladipo said. “It is what it is, that is part of the game. It was kind of tough to sit down and not be able to really find a rhythm. It is just the first game, things like that happen.”

Oladipo had a key assist to Tyler Herro in the final minute, which helped hold off a late charge by the Warriors and contributed to Miami’s defensive effort with a pair of steals. After holding the Knicks and Pacers under 90 points, the Warriors exceeded 100 on Thursday but committed 20 turnovers, which led to 27 Heat points.

“I think defensively, it is extremely natural, the fit,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Offensively he gives us that downhill attack, another guy that can make plays and another guy that can put pressure on opponent defenses in the paint.”

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Miami defeated Cleveland 113-98 on March 16 in the teams’ lone meeting so far this season behind Jimmy Butler’s 28 points and 12 rebounds.

Cleveland is 3-10 since March 3 and heads to Miami having lost four in a row.

The Cavaliers have sorely missed the combined experience of Kevin Love and Matthew Dellavedova during their prolonged absences this season.

The silver lining to their 114-94 defeat on Thursday against Philadelphia was seeing both players on the court together for the first time this season.

Love scored 13 points in 20 minutes in his fifth game played this season due to a calf strain.

“The joy of being out there and finally feeling like myself again made me happy,” Love said.

Dellavedova, who has been out with a concussion and an appendectomy, didn’t score, but finished with five assists in 16 minutes while playing with the Cavaliers’ second unit.

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Cleveland has been held under 100 points in each of its past four games. Collin Sexton scored 24 points against the Sixers, but Cleveland scored only 38 points in the second half.

The Cavaliers, who were without Larry Nance Jr. (illness), Jarrett Allen (concussion) and Dylan Windler (knee), were only outscored by two during Love’s minutes.

“Kevin is a really good player and not only for himself, but he makes his teammates better and they’re not even used to playing with him yet,” Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “The more comfortable they get with him, I think the better off he’ll be and we’ll be as a group.”

–Field Level Media