Common thought would have said that the Cavaliers would come into Monday night’s tilt against the Miami Heat with some fire of their own, especially after Rodney McGruder caused a stir in Saturday’s blowout loss.
Contrary to belief, the Wine and Gold came into their 106-98 loss to Miami on Monday a bit sloppy, something that LeBron James sensed at shootaround, when a key member was already missing.
“I even sensed that this morning,” he said. “Some of the guys, we just felt like we were a little down. Our head coach wasn’t going to be here, so that was another bummer.”
Already not feeling 100 percent and without their off-court leader, the Cavaliers sputtered out of the gate, turning the ball over five times on the way to a 29-22 first quarter deficit.
Right before the quarter ended, the team lost Andrew Bogut to a broken tibia, which sapped any further energy away.
Acting head coach Larry Drew said it did just that.
“When you sign a guy or bring a guy in, you don’t expect that type of thing to happen a minute after he checks into the game,” he said. “It certainly can take a little bit out of your sail. But injuries are a part of it. You have to play through it.”
James had an idea that the worst was unfolding in front of him before anyone else other than Bogut may have.
“When I went over to him and he said it, I already knew, I heard it. I heard it crack,” the King said. “It took the air out of the whole building. You heard it from the fans when he went down.”
The defending champs continued to sputter, even after halftime, closing the Miami lead before seeing it balloon back to 89-71 by the end of the third.
The Cavs cut the lead to single digits in the fourth, as LeBron sailed to a 30 points, 17 rebound performance, but aside from Kyrie Irving’s game-leading 32 points, no other Cavalier registered in double digits.
On the other side, former Cavalier draft pick Dion Waiters exploded in the first half. By halftime, the Syracuse product had 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting, including 4-of-4 from deep.
He finished with 29.
“I was just locked in,” Waiters said. “I wanted to come out and be extra aggressive.”
The former Cav said he watched film from Saturday’s Heat win, and saw that he could attack.
“Coach told me to get into the paint and make plays and I was able to do that,” he added.