Tyronn Lue says Cavs ‘comfortable’ they can beat Heat tonight even with LeBron resting, Irving out

 

Coach Tyronn Lue believes Cleveland has enough to beat the Heat tonight.

MIAMI – After Tyronn Lue twice used the word “rest” when offering why LeBron James is not playing tonight against the Heat, he was asked why James was on the injury report as having a calf injury.

“I don’t know,” Lue said.

James is taking the night off to rest, no matter what the injury report says. Kyrie Irving (knee) and Tristan Thompson (thumb) also won’t play but Kevin Love, who was listed as questionable because of illness, will play.

“I think the most important thing for us is getting those guys the rest,” Lue said. “They’ve carried the load all season. It was just the right thing to do. For us going forward if we want to make a run deep into these playoffs those two guys (James, Irving) and Kev being healthy is the most important thing.”

Lue, though, made it clear he believes the Cavs have enough to beat the Heat, who likely need to win their final two games to have a shot at the playoffs.

“With Kevin and the guys we have in the lineup we feel comfortable we can win,” Lue said. “We come out with the intentions of winning tonight. We know they have to win. There’s a lot of pressure on them to win tonight.”

The Cavaliers announced hours before the game that James, Irving and Thompson were out and Love was questionable, with James somehow coming up with a calf injury after spending hours at LIV once he arrived in Miami after Sunday’s loss.

Posts on social media have James, Smith and Thompson hanging at LIV, the Miami Beach nightclub, until early morning hours.

James, Irving and Love all played at least 42 minutes in Sunday’s collapse at Atlanta and Thompson has missed the last three games with the thumb injury.

The Cavs led by 26 points going into the fourth quarter in Atlanta and were outscored 44-18 before losing, 126-125, in overtime.

The loss put the 51-29 Cavaliers in a tie with Boston for the best record in the East. Cleveland holds the tie-breaker.

But the Cavs obviously have not made winning the East a priority.

“We had a couple of chances with Atlanta, the two games got away from us,” Lue said, also referring to Cleveland’s 114-100 loss to the undermanned Hawks on Friday. “We could have had a chance to solidity the No. 1 seed.

“Whether we’re first seed or second seed it’s going to be a tough uphill battle. If we get our rest and we’re healthy going into the playoffs I like who we are and what we can do.”

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was asked about the Cavs resting players.

“Our guys understand the deal right now,” he said. “Our guys will lay it on the line every single night. The other side of it is we have to play well. Nothing in this league is guaranteed. We have learned that lesson through pain.”

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UPDATE: Cavaliers list LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson out; Kevin Love questionable

Cleveland’s LeBron James on bench during March 4 game in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

UPDATE: : Cavs list LeBron James (calf),  Kyrie Irving (knee), Tristan Thompson (thumb) as OUT.  Kevin Love (illness) QUESTIONABLE

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STORY

The Cavaliers blew a 26-point fourth-quarter lead to the Hawks Sunday, losing in overtime and falling back into a tie with the Celtics for the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Cleveland’s Big Three of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love all played at least 42 minutes with James a game high 46:50.

So how did James prepare for tonight’s game in Miami against his old team after such an exhausting game?

By partying at a Miami Beach nightclub until at least 3 a.m.

All of which has fueled talk that James and others likely will not play tonight in a game the Heat desperately need to keep their playoff hopes alive before the Cavaliers confirmed that James (calf),  Kyrie Irving (knee), Tristan Thompson (thumb) are out and  Kevin Love (illness)  is questionable.

Posts on social media report that James, J.R. Smith and Tristian Thompson hung at LIV, the trendy nightclub in the Fontainebleau Hotel, until early morning hours. Smith, who has played just 33 games this season because of a thumb injury, was on the floor for 34 minutes Sunday. Thompson has missed the last three games with a thumb injury.

TMZ posted video of James in the crowded nightclub and said he “reportedly” will not play tonight.

James and Irving rested the only other time the Cavaliers were in Miami this season, March 4. Love was out with a knee injury. Cleveland also played the previous night in Atlanta before that game and James also was spotted at club LIV after arriving in town.

The Heat defeated Cleveland that night, 120-92, and then beat the Cavs two nights later in Cleveland, 106-98, with James and Irving in the lineup.

Coach Erik Spoelstra’s Heat (39-41) have rebounded from an 11-30 start to win 28-of-39 games and put itself in the playoff picture.

Miami (39-41) is tied with Chicago for the eighth-best record in the East with the Bulls owning the eighth, and final, playoff spot by virtue the tie-breaker.

Indiana is one game ahead of both teams and in the seventh spot. But because the Heat have the tie-breaker over the Pacers, they are essentially one game behind both.

If Miami defeats Cleveland tonight and Washington on Wednesday, it needs Chicago or Indiana to go 1-1 in its final two games, or Milwaukee to lose its final two, to sneak into the postseason.

The Cavaliers and Celtics are 51-29 with Cleveland owning the tie-breaker against Boston. Cleveland finishes the season Wednesday at home against Toronto. The Celtics host Brooklyn tonight and Milwaukee on Wednesday.

But James has said the No. 1 seed is not a priority and coach Tyronn Lue believes health is more important.

“We definitely want the No. 1 seed if we can get it, but I think we have to rest our guys also,” Lue said last month. “I think health going into the playoffs is more important than the seeding. If we’re fortunate enough to get the No. 1 seed, it will be great for us. But if not, then we just got to play through it.”

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