The Cleveland Cavaliers have won just one game since they face LeBron James and the Miami Heat the first time in early December. At the time, the Cavaliers were the 8th seed in the East and were trying to prove they were competitive despite LeBron's departure. What's happened since - a home-court beatdown by James, 20 straight losses, devastating injuries - has tested the mettle of everyone involved with the Cavaliers - fans and players alike.
Tonight, the Cavaliers will try to claw back - for nothing more than personal pride. After losing their 20th straight game last night to the Orlando Magic, Cleveland heads to Miami to take on the Heat.
LeBron James and the Heat have won two straight and three of four games since a four- game slide and are coming off a tight 108-103 win over Kevin Durant and the impressive Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday in the OKC. Durant led all scorers with 33 points, but it was Eddie House who stole the show with a go-ahead three-pointer with 22.2 seconds remaining in the game. It was his only field goal of the game.
"Any time Eddie raises and shoots, you think it's going in," said Heat guard Dwyane Wade, who had 32 points and nine rebounds. "He's one of those guys that look for the moment."
James finished with 23 points and 13 assists, while Chris Bosh returned from a four-game absence because of a sprained ankle to register 20 points and seven boards. Wade had been battling a case of migraine headaches as well.
The Heat, who managed to beat the Thunder despite giving up 34 points on 20 turnovers, will put their 17-5 ledger as the host on the line Monday.
Cleveland has lost a single-season franchise worst 20 straight games and its 23 consecutive road losses is another team record. It suffered a 103-87 loss in Orlando on Sunday, as Manny Harris notched 20 points and Samardo Samuels netted 16 in defeat.
"We can't allow ourselves to get behind 16 or 17 points and expect to come back," Cleveland coach Byron Scott said. "It was an uphill battle all night long."
Ryan Hollins had 11 points and guard Daniel Gibson left the game with a sore left quadriceps and could miss tonight's game. Cleveland, which is 3-24 on the road, hasn't tasted victory since beating New York in overtime on Dec. 18. The Cavs' last win away from Quicken Loans Arena was on Nov. 9 versus New Jersey. The NBA record for most consecutive defeats in one season is 23 shared by both Vancouver (1995-96) and Denver (1997-98).
Miami has beaten the Cavaliers twice this season and recorded a 101-95 triumph in the previous bout on Dec. 15 at home. Cleveland is still 9-3 in the past 12 meetings, thanks in large part to James' time in the Forest City, but has dropped 11 of 15 matchups as the guest in this series.