NBA Basketball

Cavs could be cure for Heat's short skid

The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Miami Heat -- the only NBA franchises who know what it's like to be jilted by LeBron James -- will meet Friday night.

Cleveland, which will host the game, is just 5-18 on its own court this season and has the worst overall record in the league at 9-40.

Miami (22-24) has been solid on the road at 11-11.

The Heat are also 2-0 against the Cavs this season, winning by 24 and 25 points.

Both teams are on losing streaks -- a two-game skid by Miami and five straight for Cleveland.

The Heat lost at home on Wednesday, falling 111-99 to the Los Angeles Clippers.

"We had breakdown after breakdown defensively," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "(The Clippers) made plays, and we paid the price."

Miami made just 59.1 percent of its free throws (13 of 22), and that has been a consistent issue lately. Last season, Miami shot a solid 74.9 percent from the foul line. This season, with all the same players, Miami is the worst free-throw-shooting team in the NBA, making 68.5 percent.

Heat center Hassan Whiteside is partly responsible for the foul-shooting woes as he had missed 14 consecutive attempts until he made a free throw in Wednesday's third quarter.

Cleveland is shooting 79.2 percent from the foul line, ranking seventh in the league through Wednesday's games.

Another Heat issue this season has been a high rate of turnovers -- 14.9 per game, which ranks in the bottom third of the league.

In the loss to the Clippers, the Heat turned it over 14 times -- twice as many as Los Angeles.

There are some reasons for the turnovers, namely that 2018 All-Star point guard Goran Dragic is out after knee surgery. His replacement, former forward Justise Winslow, has done well overall but had four turnovers on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Cavaliers, who were routed 123-103 by the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, are using this season as a developmental project of sorts since they are way out of playoff contention.

One player who is developing nicely is Cedi Osman, a 6-foot-8, 215-pound shooting guard/small forward who plays for the Turkish national team and has won gold medals at the European Championships (Under-20 and U-18 teams).

On Wednesday, Osman scored a career-high 25 points, making 8 of 11 shots from the floor, including 6 of 7 attempts from behind the arc. He also had eight rebounds and two assists (three turnovers) in a breakthrough performance.

He is not an explosive athlete, but Osman handles the ball well for someone his size and has shown creative flair in his shot-making.

Defensively, however, Osman has been playing out of position. With injuries to power forwards Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love, Larry Nance Jr. and John Henson, Osman has had to guard players who outweigh him by as much as 50 pounds.

"I don't think it's fair what we're asking him to do," Cavs coach Larry Drew said. "He's guarding guys who are much stronger than him at the four spot."

Henson (wrist surgery) and Love (toe) are projected to be out for quite some time. Nance could return Friday night. Thompson (sore left foot) is reportedly close, although the team will be cautious.

The Heat, other than the Dragic injury, are as healthy as they have been all season.

--Field Level Media

Updated January 24, 2019

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