The Cavs and Heat are scheduled to play Monday night, but Cleveland will do so without the majority of its starting lineup.
The team announced Monday afternoon that Tristan Thompson (thumb), Kyrie Irving (knee) and LeBron James (calf) are all out. Kevin Love (illness) is questionable. Thompson has been resting for a few games, but Irving, James and Love all played 40+ minutesSundayagainst the Hawks. There was no mention of the players being injured after the game.
As for the NBA standings, this game carries a lot of importance for the Eastern Conference and the NBA playoffs. The Cavs are currently tied with the Celtics for first place in the East. A loss by themand a win by the Celtics (who are playing the bottom-feeding Nets) would put Boston in first with just one game left to play.
Just because the Cavs are sitting most of their starters doesn't automaticallymean they'll lose to the Heat, but it certainly doesn't bode well for them. The team is a mess without James, going3-12 in games without him (losing those 12 games by an average of 14.9 points).
The game doesn't just impact the top of the standings, though. Cleveland's opponent, the Heat, are currently on the outside looking in sitting at ninth. Miami has the same record as the eighth-seeded Bulls, and the Pacers are only one win above both teams at seventh.
The race for the final few seeds in the East will take place tonight asIndiana will face the 76ers, while Chicago plays the Magic. Should the Pacers and Bulls lose tonight, and Miami pulls off a win against the star-stripped Cavs, then the standings will really shake up, setting up for an exciting final day of the regular season.
Per NBA, Heat still can finish as high as No. 6 seed (leaving Cleveland, Boston or Toronto as possible first-round opponents): pic.twitter.com/IDxxkWsNOH
— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) April 10, 2017
No matter what happens between the Pacers and Bulls, if Miami takes advantage Monday night,the win will keep them alive in the playoff race for at least one more game.
We also have to mention the Bucks here because if they lose out, the Heat win out, and the Bulls win out, then Miami would secure a spot in the playoffs due to a tiebreaker.