The Heat Win Again, Hawks Continue Road Tour Against the PistonsBy Debbie B.
On Sunday, the Miami Heat (40-14) extended their win streak to 11 games with its 109-105 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers (18-38). LeBron James scored 28 points, followed by Dwyane Wade with 24 points. The Heat had a 22-point lead in the second half but had to overcome an eight-point deficit with five-plus minutes left.
Surrounding the game were rumors that James could opt out of his 2014 contract with the Heat and return to Cleveland. The story picked up traction after the NBA All-Star weekend when he bonded with the Cavaliers Kyrie Irving.
On Sunday, the question had been posed to James on whether he and Irving had been working on their chemistry in a move toward playing on the same team. James responded, “I can’t worry about, you know, speculation or rumors. My only focus right now is to win another championship [in Miami]. What we’re doing on the floor right now is what it’s all about. We’re playing good ball right now, trying to win a championship. So, you know, I can’t worry about what people say.”
With Irving getting lots of praise for his play, is James being territorial? Or, will he just stay with the Heat to increase his legacy and ring collection?
After watching James in Sunday’s game you have to think he’s content where is right now.
But this Cleveland return story could go on for the next 14 months. Wasn’t the last one enough?
In the near-term, the Heat is at the top of the Southeast division and it is the Eastern Conference’s leader. Are they good enough to go all the way in June? They’re at the top to do so with their 3 to 2 odds.
Trailing behind the Heat is the Atlanta Hawks (31-23). Good luck trying to catch up but they’ll try to do so on Monday when the travel to the Midwest to take on the Detroit Pistons (22-36).
Also on Monday, the Washington Wizards (17-37) will play the Toronto Raptors (23-33). They have a two-game win streak but it may end with a Raptors win (-5, 195 o/u).
Atlanta vs. Detroit
The Hawks will look for a fifth win over six games on Monday along with a season-high fourth consecutive road win.
On Saturday, the team opened up a six-game road tour and rallied from a 10-point deficit to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks, 103-102.
Assisting with the win was Josh Smith. After weeks of speculation with possible scenarios including the Bucks, Smith remained with the Hawks. Against Milwaukee, contributed 15 points with 13 rebounds.
Atlanta’s coach Larry Drew is happy the player remained with the team and said after Saturday’s game via ESPN, “Josh has been a super player for us. I’m glad he’s still a Hawk.”
And the team will be glad too when he’s playing against the Pistons. He plays well versus this team, averaging 21.7 points over his previous 10 games and with a win on Monday, this fourth straight road win will be a first since last year during Jan. 27-Feb. 10.
As for the Pistons, they’ll enter Monday’s game on a two-game losing streak against the Indiana Pacers. On Friday, they got crushed 114-82 on the road and returning home didn’t help for the second game as they lost again, this time it was 90-72.
Not helping matters was the Piston’s inability to shoot in the first quarter. They only scored nine points–the lowest this season for an NBA team in an opening quarter. It only got worse: its 72 points for the game represents the lowest number of points scored for the season to date.
Lucky for the Hawks, the Piston’s Will Bynum has been suspended for Monday’s game. In the team’s Dec. 26 two OT loss, Bynum scored 31 points.