Best of NBA 's Eastern Conference Odds: Miami Heat at Cleveland Cavaliers
Friday, February 17, 2012
LeBron James will make his third visit to Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday since departing as a free agent. James surprisingly left the door open Thursday for a potential return to play for the Cavaliers again, calling his one-hour television special to announce his move to Miami Heat“a mistake” and saying he holds no grudge toward Cavs owner Dan Gilbert for this scathing letter that ripped his former star.
James can opt out of his contract with the Heat during the summer of 2014.
Miami Heat (23-7): This is the final stop on Miami’s six-game road trip. The Heat are 4-1 on the trip, including an impressive sweep of a three-games-in-three-nights stretch earlier this week, when they won each contest by an average of nearly 18 points. The big leads have allowed coach Erik Spoelstra to rest his stars and extend his bench for big minutes of the fourth quarters, meaning the Heat should be fresh for Friday’s final stop.
Cleveland Cavaliers (11-16): Daniel Gibson’s sprained left ankle means the Cavaliers are down to their third-string shooting guard Friday. Alonzo Gee, typically the backup small forward, will start in place of Gibson, who was starting in place of Anthony Parker (back). At least rookie point guard Kyrie Irving is back and healthy after missing three games with a concussion. Irving had 22 points in his return Wednesday against the Pacers.
already won seven games by at least 10 points. Last season, the Cavaliers
didn’t beat a team by more than eight points until the 73rd game of the season.
That team just happened to be the Heat.
2. The Cavaliers learned Thursday they’ll be without center Anderson Varejao (fractured wrist) for four to six weeks. With about 10 weeks left in the season, coach Byron Scott said there is a chance Varejao will be shut down for the season if the recovery leans closer to six weeks than four.
3. James is averaging 25.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 7.3 assists in six games against his former team. The Heat are 5-1 against the Cavs since James arrived.
NBA BASKETBALL PREDICTION: Heat 107, Cavaliers 93
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