NBA Christmas 2014, Heat vs. Cavaliers: Time, TV schedule and live stream
Christmas in South Beach doesn’t sound so bad, to be honest.
LeBron James returns to South Beach on Christmas Day for the first time since his departure over the summer as the Cleveland Cavaliers face the Miami Heat. The first matchup of the season between the two teams gets some special treatment as the NBA’s busy holiday schedule continues.
James and the Cavaliers heading to Miami would be a significant occasion on any day, but the league decided to wait and give us the game as a holiday treat. It’s unclear how LeBron will be welcomed by the local crowd after taking his talents back home over the summer, but we’ll find out whether they’re in the holiday spirit soon enough.
On the court, the Heat have been stumbling recently after turning in a strong start to the season, partially due to the absence of Chris Bosh. The all-star big man has missed the past six games with a calf strain and isn’t expected to play Thursday against Cleveland.
Without Bosh, Miami has lost three of four during its current homestand, including a 91-87 loss to the 76ers (!) on Tuesday night and an 18-point loss to the Jazz (!!) a week ago. It’s certainly a far cry from the Big Three era these days. Only the Timberwolves, Lakers, Jazz, Knicks and Pelicans have allowed more points per possession than the Heat this season. Erik Spoelstra, for all his brilliance, has not figured out how to stop opposing teams without LeBron leading the way on that end of the floor.
That means a somewhat-favorable matchup for the Cavaliers, even on the road. Cleveland is only 6-5 away from Quicken Loans Arena this season, but the Heat are an astonishing 5-10 at home this season, getting the majority of their wins away from South Beach.
The Cavaliers are also playing much better ball in recent weeks, with a 12-3 record since dropping to 5-7 in late November. Players such as Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters are showing more comfort in their new roles after some early adjustments, and James continues to be one of the most devastating players in the game.
How the Cavaliers will adjust to the absence of Anderson Varejao, who’s expected to be out long-term after suffering an ankle injury Tuesday, is a bigger question now, but the Cavaliers can sustain some rhythm by delivering on Christmas in Miami.
How to watch
Where: American Airlines Arena, Miami
When: 5 p.m. ET
Announcers: Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson, Doris Burke
Radio: ESPN Radio