The chances of LeBron James and the Miami Heat snapping their 23-game winning streak against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on Wednesday night appear to be slim.
James and Dwyane Wade have played consistent basketball in March, and the duo have not had trouble scoring against the Cavaliers over their careers, with each averaging 26 points per game.
To make matters worse for Cleveland, the starting backcourt of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters won't be available due to injury.
The Heat faced their biggest scare during the incredible run versus the Kevin Garnett-less Boston Celtics Monday, but pulled out a 105-103 victory thanks to 37 points and 12 assists from James, and guard Mario Chalmers connecting on four three-pointers en route to 21 points.
Wade put together a solid overall game, tallying 16 points on 7-for-15 shooting, with seven rebounds, and six assists. He snapped his personal streak of 13 straight games with a minimum of 20 points.
Miami broke the 2007-08 Houston Rockets record of 22 consecutive victories, and are now ten triumphs away from tying the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers all-time mark of 33 straight.
Wednesday at Cleveland begins perhaps the least difficult stretch of Miami’s remaining 14 games. Friday the Heat host 23-46 Detroit, then 15-52 Charlotte on Sunday, and take a “road” trip up to 18-20 Orlando the following Monday.
For Cleveland fans, it might be a form of poetic justice to stunt James and the Heat’s chances for one of the NBA’s most elusive and prestigious records, but they’ll have to do it without their two young stars.
Irving, an All-Star point guard, suffered a sprained left shoulder over a week ago, and is still scheduled to miss at least another three weeks. Irving leads Cleveland in points, assists, and steals. Waiters, a rookie who has had promising stretches this season, will also miss the game after an MRI revealed loose cartilage in his left knee, and could be out for more than a week.
Asked to carry more of the offense with Irving out, Waiters was averaging 19 points over his last four games before going down in Cleveland’s 111-90 loss to the Indiana Pacers Monday.
In that same game, forward Tristan Thompson flashed some of his potential with 20 points and 11 rebounds, and C.J. Miles came off the bench for 21 points, going 4-for-8 from three-point range.
Wayne Ellington is expected to fill in for Waiters, and Daniel Gibson will take over point guard duties, as reported by the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
The game begins at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast by Sun Sports and Fox Sports Ohio, or you can watch a live online stream by purchasing NBA League Pass Broadband here.
Betting Odds: Miami is favored by 12 points
Over/Under: 198 points
Prediction: Irving and Waiters would have created matchup problems for Miami along the perimeter, but their absences leave Cleveland with a serious lack of firepower. Thompson should have another solid game with the Heat lacking an interior presence, but look for Miami to pull out a 24th straight win.
Predicted Score: Miami 104, Cleveland 90