NBA Finals: Stephen Curry puts on a show; Cavaliers look deflated in Game 2 loss to Warriors

Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors celebrates with Draymond Green during the fourth quarter of Game 2. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Coach Tyronn Lue insisted the Cleveland was not a broken team after squandering a great opportunity to steal Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Lue said the Cavaliers were ready for Sunday’s Game 2 in Oakland.

Lue’s team did not back him up.

Game 2 was more like what most expected from this series. The Cavaliers fell behind early and never led. Now they limp back to Cleveland for Game 3 on Wednesday down 0-2.

“I didn’t think we started the game like we needed to start,” Lue said as Golden State made its first seven field goal attempts. “Not being physical enough. We can’t start the game like that. … We have to start the game better, being more physical, bringing the physicality. We didn’t do that tonight to start.”

The Cavaliers can say what they want but Thursday’s loss was deflating and took something out of the underdogs. Cleveland was flat on both ends of the court for most of the first half and after cutting into the lead in the third quarter, quickly ran out of gas in the fourth quarter as Golden State stretched the lead to 23 before setting fo a 122-103 victory.

Cleveland reverted back to the shaky defensive team was saw all season, allowing the Warriors to shoot 57.3 percent from the field and LeBron James wasn’t anything close to matching his extraordinary Game 1 effort. And unless James plays out of this world, the Cavaliers have no chance.

James once again filled the stat sheet with 29 points, 9 rebounds and 13 assists, but his impact was nothing like Game 1 when he dropped 51. And James looked fatigued at times playing all but the final 4:09. He now has played 185:29 of a possible 197 minutes in the last four games. When LeBron is tired it shows more on the defensive end and in his effort getting back on defense. And he spent more time whining about non-calls than usual.

“It sucks to lose,” said James, who insists he got tired once during the game. “It sucks when you go out there and give everything you have – your mind’s into it, your body’s into it and you come out on the losing end.”

Cleveland forward LeBron James sits on the bench during the second half of the Cavaliers’ Game 2 Finals loss to the Warriors. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Stephen Curry highlight film: The first one came with 7:54 to play in the game. With the shot clock running down Curry briefly lost his dribble, picked up the ball and threw up a high-arcing shot from about 30 feet over Kevin Love that cleaning went through to push the Warriors lead to 14. About two minutes later, Curry raced to the corner and launched another 3-pointer, again over Love. The only difference this time was he landed on his back as he was fouled by Love and the shot turned into a four-point play.

“A big moment where we had a significant lead and we could extend it a little bit and create some separation down the stretch,” Curry said about the three that beat shot clock. “It was a cool moment for sure.”

The two 3-pointers were part of Curry’s Finals record of nine (in 17 attempts). He finished with 33 points and placed himself as the leading contender for Finals MVP. And that is saying a lot when for the second straight game the Warriors’ Big Three all topped 20 points with Kevin Duran scoring 26 (on 10-of-14 shooting) and Klay Thompson adding 20 (8 of 13).

    Warriors fans taunt JR Smith: Cleveland’s JR Smith wasn’t going to forget about one of the biggest blunders in Finals history in Game 1, a play that dominated the conversation during the two-day break between games. Smith’s meltdown in the final seconds of regulation – he dribbled out the final 4.7 seconds with the score tied – gave the Warriors life, who took advantage and dominated the overtime.

Warriors fans first showed Smith how much they appreciated his contributing to their team’s win by loudly cheering him during pregame introductions. Then, with Smith at the foul line, he heard chants of “MVP, MVP.” One fan brought a sign saying Smith was “DA REAL MVP.”

And how did Smith respond? He finished with five points on 2-of-9 shooting but wasn’t about to admit the taunts got under his skin. Then again, this is a man who wanted everybody to believe that he knew the score at the end of Game 1 and was dribbling the ball to halfcourt looking for a better shot.

“I’m always a person who the fans like to talk to or heckle,” Smith said. “I like it. I’d rather they do that than not acknowledge me at all. I appreciate it.”

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NBA Finals: JR Smith’s blunder costs LeBron, Cavaliers chance to steal Game 1 from Warriors

Cleveland’s LeBron James looks at JR Smith as time expires in regulation against the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals with the score tied at 107. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The Cleveland Cavaliers – the biggest underdogs in the Finals in 30 years – squandered a golden opportunity to steal Game 1 and now must be wondering just what they have to do to win a game against the Golden State Warriors.

In the final minute of regulation, the Cavaliers were victimized by a little-known rule that allowed the officials to change a call and then watched JR Smith dribble out what could have been their only chance at a win.

Smith rebounded a missed George Hill free throw with 4.7 seconds to play in regulation and thinking the Cavs had the lead raced to halfcourt with the ball. The problem was the game was tied and Smith’s brain cramp send the game into overtime where the Warriors dominated for a 124-114 win.

Although Smith tried to save himself by saying he knew the game was tied and he was trying to find room to get a shot and then thought Cleveland going to call a time out, he clearly believed the Cavs had the lead.

Cavs coach Tryonn Lue confirmed that.

“He thought it was over,” Lue said. “He thought we were up one.”

The look on LeBron James’ face told the story. James finished with 51 points and must have been wondering if his effort was going to go to waste.

It did.

Smith’s mental meltdown concluded a bizarre final minute filled with drama and breakdowns.

It all started with a reversal on a block-charge call with 34.6 seconds to play that had a huge impact on the outcome. Kevin Durant was originally called for an offensive foul but because the officials could review the play to see if James was in the restricted circle, the actual call was also able to be reviewed. It was changed – correctly – to a block on James.

Instead of the Cavs leading 104-102 with the ball, Durant made both free throws and the game was tied.

“For our team to come out and play their hearts out, compete the way we did, it’s bad,” Lue said about the overturned call.

Fast forward to the final seconds with the Warriors leading 107-106 thanks to a Stephen Curry basket and free throw. The Warriors fell asleep on the biggest possession of the game and Klay Thompson had to grab Hill, who was cutting to the basket and would have been wide open as James was making the pass. Hill made the first free throw to tie the score and missed the second, setting up Smith’s blunder.

All of which must have James wondering: “What more can I do?”

James had the sixth 50-point game in NBA Finals history. He also tied Michael Jordan with his 109th playoff game with at least 30 points. James shot 19 of 32, had eight rebounds and eight assists and still could not will his team to a win.

In addition, the Cavaliers finished with a 52-38 rebounding advantage and the Warriors were just 8 of 30 on 3-pointers midway through the fourth quarter. They finished 13 of 36.

While Lue said the  Cavs were robbed, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said his team was lucky.

“We played as well as we’ve played all postseason,” James said. “We gave ourselves a chance possession after possession after possession. And there were some plays that were kind of taken away from us.”

Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson confronts Golden State’s Draymond Green late in Game 1. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Let’s get physical: With the Cavaliers’ frustration level already boiling over, tempers flared in the final seconds of overtime and it could impact Sunday’s Game 2. After James had words with Curry and Thompson, Cleveland’s Tristian Thompson took offense to Shaun Livingston taking a shot with four seconds remaining and threw an elbow at Livingston.

Thompson said the thought Livingston should not have shot the ball and taken the shot clock violation. “That was some bull****,” he said.

Livingston, and the rest of the Warriors, disagreed.

“We don’t ever take a turnover,” Livingston said. “We finish the game out, that’s just how we play. That’s not disrespect to any team.”

Thompson was immediately ejected and as the teams came together Golden State’s Draymond Green started talking and waiving goodbye. Thompson shoved the basketball and his hand in Green’s face. Green backed off.

The league certainly will take a look at the play today and could fine or even suspend Tristian Thompson for a game.

Klay Thompson is in pain after injuring his left knee. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Warriors let out sigh of relief: As much as we all believe this will be a quick series the first quarter reminded us how quickly things could change.

Everybody connected to the Warriors held their breath when Smith slipped and rolled into Klay Thompson’s left knee about six minutes into the game. The Warriors guard went down grimacing and slapped the court, a bad sign. But the news was as good as it could have been for the Warriors as Thompson was diagnosed with a leg contusion and returned at the start of the second quarter. He finished with 24 points.

But the play illustrates why nothing is guaranteed. This could easily have ended differently and suddenly the Warriors are down one of their stars and the series takes on a whole different look.

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Disheartened Heat coach Erik Spoelstra had trouble sleeping after David Fizdale was fired

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra (right) said David Fizdale, fired Monday by Memphis, will step back from coaching this season.

CLEVELAND – Erik Spoelstra was distraught when hearing his friend, and former assistant, David Fizdale was fired by the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday. So much so that the Heat coach had a tough time sleeping.

“I had a tough time wrapping my mind around it and a tough time even sleeping last night, thinking about it,” Spoelstra said Tuesday following the Heat’s shootaround prior to tonight’s game against the Cavaliers.

“You think as a young assistant going over there, moving cities to a new organization that’s transitioning, that you think it would be about the long game. And to have patience, and to be able to work through that transition, to be able to create something new. And that takes time in this league. And that’s what was so disheartening about it.

“Yes, they were going through a tough stretch right now, but this league is uncomfortable. It is. It is when you lose and you get challenged as an organization, when you’re going through those stretches. But, on the other side of those stretches oftentimes are the greatest benefits, when you’re able to get through that adversity together.”

With four assistant coaches, Spoelstra has one opening but he said Fizdale, 43, will not be re-joining the Heat, where he was an assistant from 2008-2016.

“”He’s not doing that right now,” he said. “He’s going to take some time, as well he should. Since something like this happens so suddenly and shockingly, I think the best thing to do is to step back, which is what his plan is, and really disengage and then contemplate his next move. He’s a head coach. I would love to have him at least join him as a consultant or somebody to break some bread and share some wine, but that’s not going to happen right now.”

Fizdale will collect the $5 million owed to him this season and next by the Grizzlies.

Fizdale joined the Heat in 2008 after five years as an assistant with the Warriors and Hawks. He was in Miami for eight years, the last two as an assistant head coach. Fizdale heavily was involved in game preparation and player development.

“Great basketball mind,” said Udonis Haslem, who played for the Heat during Fizdale’s entire tenure.

“Can relate to him. One of those coaches that can calm me down and get to me no matter the situation. We just spoke the same language, spoke the same lingo. We just really could relate. Great passion for the game.”

Spoelstra and Haslem both reached out to Fizdale on Monday. Haslem said the was “shocked” by the news.

“Couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I don’t think it was right. He took them to the playoffs last year. Obviously, they’ve had some injuries so they struggled, it’s not easy to play without your full roster. We know that first hand. We’ve been through that. I felt like he should have got a little bit more commitment from the organization. A little more patience.”

Fizdale was 50-51 in just more than one season in Memphis. The Grizzlies lost in the first round of the 2017 playoffs and have dropped to 7-12 this year after having lost eight straight.

The tipping point, though, was his deteriorating relationship with center Marc Gasol, who Fizdale benched for the fourth quarter of a loss to Brooklyn on Sunday. Memphis GM Chris Wallace acknowledged to local reporters there was tension between Fizdale and Gasol but said the decision was more about the way the team was performing.

The support for Fizdale was heard all over the NBA, not just from the Heat.

“I think David Fizdale is one of the best coaches in the league,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s a brilliant guy, he’s got an edge to him, he’s tough, he’s smart. Their whole team is injured, Mike Conley is out. Like, this is what happens, you lose when your best players are out and when your whole team is wiped out. It caught me off guard.”

Cavalier coach Tyronn Lue, on Monday, vouched for Fizdale as a person and a coach.

“To pick up and move his family there, leave a good situation in Miami, where they were winning. … He was a part of those championships,” Lue said. “And then when you have an opportunity, I thought he did a great job. A lot of guys thought he did a great job. For this to happen to him, to a good person, to his family, it’s not right. I feel for him, but he did a helluva job.”

Fizdale took the high road in his statement issured early Tuesday that read:

“I would like to thank the Memphis Grizzlies organization for allowing me the opportunity to lead this proud franchise and represent the city of Memphis,” he wrote.

After thanking the ownership group and team officials he continued.  “It was a great honor and experience to serve as your Head Coach and be part of the Memphis community. The city of Memphis is a special place and embodies a spirit that is second to none. I wish the organization and the players the best moving forward and hope they bring the fans the championship they so richly deserve.”

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With Dwyane Wade joining LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers will resemble Miami Heat of Big Three era

Dwyane Wade talks with LeBron James #23 while playing the Chicago Bulls during a preseason game at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

When not debating over who is peanut butter and who is jelly during a recent ESPN interview (yes, that actually happened), Dwyane Wade and LeBron James talked about how the disappointment of losing in their first Finals together as teammates in Miami strengthened their relationship.

Wade and James, who are reunited in Cleveland and will play in their first regular season game as teammates tonight against the Celtics since their days with the Heat, said after losing to Dallas in the 2011 Finals they vacationed together for the first time in the Bahamas and sat around “depressed,” and feeling “vulnerable.’

The trip brought them closer and what followed were three more Finals appearances and two titles, a period that, four seasons later, the two are rekindling.

Wade, 35, and James, 32, recently admitted Cleveland, with its versatility and interchangeable parts, is starting to resemble those Miami teams that Pat Riley assembled. That will be more evident with coach Tyronn Lue’s decision to start Kevin Love at center.

“We definitely see it here,” Wade told reporters covering the Cavs. “You see the ability to have Kevin Love start at the five, Jae (Crowder) start at the four. When LeBron’s on the court. … he starts at the three but he’s the same height as the four and five on the other team.”

Those Heat lineups had that versatility because of Chris Bosh’s ability to play center or power forward, James facilitating offense from one of those forward spots and a bench with “positionless’ players.

Wade said that versatility will allow the Cavs to apply some of those same Heat principals on defense, too.

“How aggressive (Bosh) was and then his ability to switch on guards, which a lot of people didn’t give him credit for. … He was an unbelievable defender,” Wade said. “But when he switched on point guards he was a great defender as well. Udonis Haslem was the same way. So yeah, definitely having kind of a similar ability on the defensive end.”

Lue told cleveland.com that he has watched film of the Heat from the Big Three era, starting even before Wade signed on this summer. But now he has even more reasons.

“I’m looking into it,” Lue said. “I just want to keep offense as condensed as possible. Won’t be a lot of thinking, a lot more playing with movement and ball movement. Try not to add too much stuff, just keep the four sets we’ve got, keep adding on those sets and go from there.”

Said Wade:  “So many versatile guys and I think that’s one thing that makes everybody here excited, that you could play multiple positions. Even when we’re going over plays. You could put so many different guys in the sets that I think in the past, it was a little different style.

“So I think it’s a good change for these guys. Obviously you’ve got good shooters, but you’ve got enough slashers, penetrators, guys do other things to kind of make it a complete team.”

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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

—-

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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LeBron James still the center of attention, even when he’s not playing

Cleveland's Kyrie Irving, left, LeBron James, center, and J.R. Smith, right, watch from the bench during the first half of Saturday's game. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving, left, LeBron James, center, and J.R. Smith, right, watch from the bench during the first half of Saturday’s game. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

MIAMI – Even without talking to the media and even before Miami’s 120-92 victory Saturday, a game in which he did not play, LeBron James dominated the conversation in the visitors’ locker room Saturday at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Speaking loudly enough for his teammates and anybody else in the room to hear, James held a long conversation with his son and wife on FaceTime, asking his son how his basketball game went and letting his wife know he went for a walk and enjoyed the weather earlier in the day.

(Message to media: LeBron is just a regular dude visiting from a cold-weather city and enjoying our chamber-of-commerce weather).

LeBron then pulled out a book and started singing (yes, singing) something about exercising his brain, or at least that’s how it sounded. His reading material: “The Godfather,” a calculated message to Miami’s real ‘Godfather,’ Heat president Pat Riley, the man who LeBron continues to hold a grudge against after leaving Miami in 2014.

Passive aggressive LeBron at his best.

While Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said all the right things about LeBron sitting for the second time in his past three trips to Miami- how Cleveland is on the second night of a back-to-back, LeBron has been to six consecutive Finals, the Cavs are looking at the big picture, blah, blah blah – here’s a couple of other theories:

    LeBron is doing everything he can to help the Heat get into the playoffs:

Miami entered Saturday 1.5 games behind the Pistons for the No. 8 seed. If the Cavs hold onto the top seed in the East (they entered three games ahead of Boston) and Miami snuck in at No. 8, it would mean an additional four or five days in Miami for the first round of the playoffs for LeBron. And he would like nothing more than to oust the Heat.

    LeBron truly needed the rest:

But not just because he played 39 minutes in Atlanta on Friday. Social media was buzzing early Saturday morning about LeBron showing up at LIV, the trendy nightclub in the Fontainebleau Hotel on Miami Beach at about 2 a.m. That early morning walk LeBron spoke to his wife about. … just may have been before he got some sleep.

LeBron, truly taking his talents to South Beach.

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But here is what Lue said about LeBron sitting out Saturday’s game – he was joined by point guard Kyrie Irving on the sidelines, giving the Cavs $48.5 million worth of cheerleaders on the bench.

“He needs the rest for what we’re trying to do, for where we’re trying to go,” Lue said.

Heat players were unaware the Cavs would be without their two best players until informed about 75 minutes before the game by reporters.

“To each his own,” guard Wayne Ellington said. “If they’re not playing, that’s their decision. Hopefully, we can handle our business and make them regret that. We’ll see them tonight and we’ll see them in a few days.”

The two teams play in Cleveland on Monday.

This is the second time in the past three games in Miami that James has rested. He did not play in a Heat victory in December of 2015 and was serenaded by Heat fans with chants of, “LeBron is tired,” a chant they attempted to fire up Saturday without much success.

LeBron, 32, has missed five games this season to rest. He is averaging 37.6 minutes per game, his most since his final season with the Heat and the second-most in the league.

During his four years in Miami, LeBron never took a night off to rest in the middle of the season. The only times he sat when not injured were in the final weeks when nothing was at stake.

In 2014, he said taking games off has “never been part of my DNA” and it was his obligation to be out there for his teammates.

Times have changed and Lue was asked if LeBron understands these rest days are more necessary later in his career.

“He’s gotten better,” Lue said. “He understands the big picture of what we’re trying to accomplish and the guy’s played so many minutes over the course of his career. Going to six straight Finals he has to take some rest at times. When I talk to our training staff and they say it’s a game he has to take off, that’s what we do.

“He understands that. As much as he doesn’t like it, he has to deal with it.”

The Cavaliers were spending Saturday night in Miami and not heading back to Cleveland until Sunday afternoon, plenty of time for LeBron to rest up from two nights on South Beach.

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Cleveland’s LeBron James, Kyrie Irving will rest tonight against Heat

 

 

Cleveland's LeBron James (23) and Kyrie Irving (2) will rest tonight against the Heat. (AP Photo/Brett Davis)
Cleveland’s LeBron James (23) and Kyrie Irving (2) will rest tonight against the Heat. (AP Photo/Brett Davis)

MIAMI –LeBron James and Kyrie Irving will not play tonight for the Cavaliers against the Heat, meaning Cleveland will be without all three of its all-stars.

Kevin Love continues to sit after undergoing surgery on his left. Knee.

Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said the decision to rest James and Irving came following the Cavs’ victory last night in Atlanta. James played 39 minutes and scored 38 points on 14-of-27 shooting in Cleveland’s 135-130 victory. Irving had a game high 43 points.

“He needs the rest for what we’re trying to do for where we’re trying to go,” Lue said about James, 32.

This is the second time in the last three games in Miami that James has sat out to rest. He did not play in a Heat victory in December of 2015 and was serenaded by Heat fans with chants of, “LeBron is tired.”

The Heat are 4-0 at home against Cleveland since James left Miami to rejoin the Cavaliers in the summer of 2014.

This is the fifth game James will miss this season, all because of rest.

Lue was asked if James understands these rest days are more necessary later in his career.

“He’s gotten better,” he said. “He understands the big picture of what we’re trying to accomplish and the guy’s played so many minutes over the course of his career. Going to six straight Finals he has to take some rest at times. When I talk to our training staff and they see it’s a game he has to take off that’s what we do.

“He understands that. As much as he doesn’t like it, he has to deal with it.”

This will be the seventh game Irving misses this season, five are due to various injuries.

The Cavaliers enter 42-18, two games ahead of Boston for the best record in the East. The Heat are 28-34, 1.5 games out of the final playoff spot.

Former Heat forward will James Jones will replace James in the starting lineup. Newly acquired Deron Williams will start in place of Irving.

Irving has missed six games this season, five due to various injuries.