CLEVELAND (SportsDirect, Inc.) — Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt vowed to get superstar LeBron James more rest during the regular season this year, but the schedule is so far not cooperating. The Cavaliers will play their third game in four nights when they host the Miami Heat on Friday.
Cleveland bounced back from an opening night loss to Chicago by dominating the Memphis Grizzlies on the defensive end in a 106-76 victory on Wednesday.
“The guys came and had energy and purpose,” Blatt explained to reporters. “Sometimes, when you’re the team that’s playing that second night of the back-to-back at the beginning of the season you have an advantage over the team that’s playing their first game.”
The Heat breezed past Charlotte 104-94 in its opener on Wednesday and are happy to have a healthy lineup heading into a matchup with their famous former teammate. Forward Chris Bosh, who sat out the final two months of last season due to a pulmonary embolism, put up 21 points and 10 rebounds over 32 minutes in the victory.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN, Sun Sports (Miami), FSN Ohio (Cleveland)
ABOUT THE HEAT (1-0): Miami was decimated by injuries in the second half of last season that dropped the team all the way out of playoff contention and forced it to make some additions in the offseason. The most notable of those additions so far is guard Gerald Green, who poured in 19 points and went 5-of-8 from 3-point range in the season opener. The former Phoenix Suns reserve gives the team some insurance in the event of an injury to Luol Deng or Dwyane Wade.
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (1-1): James managed just 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting in 31 minutes on Wednesday but the rest of his teammates picked him up in the easy win. The Cavaliers made a strong push to upgrade the bench in free agency and the reserves totaled 50 points against the Grizzlies while Cleveland totaled 29 assists on 41 field goals. “We are a team that knows how to win,” James told reporters. “Offensively, we know our best basketball is when we’re sharing the ball and we don’t care who gets the shots.”
1. The Heat took both meetings at home last season.
2. James averaged 24.3 points, 6.5 assists and 5.8 rebounds in the four meetings with Miami in 2014-15.
3. Miami F Amar’e Stoudemire (knee) sat out the opener but is expected to make his team debut on Friday.