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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, April 5th (All times eastern)

Miami Heat (40-34) at Cleveland Cavaliers (45-30), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The defending world champion Miami Heat open a short two- game road trip when they visit the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight at Quicken Loans Arena.

Miami is one game ahead of the Washington Wizards for the top spot in the Southeast Division. The Heat are No. 4 in the Eastern Conference playoff standings.

The Cavaliers are No. 2 in the East, three games behind the Detroit Pistons for first place in the Central Division and the conference. Cleveland is just one-half game ahead of the Chicago Bulls.

This is the fourth and final meeting of the regular season between the squads. The Heat won a pair of games at AmericanAilrines Arena, while the Cavaliers defeated Miami, 103-79, on February 9th at Quicken Loans Arena.

Miami has lost three straight and five of its last six contests at Cleveland.

The Heat are fresh off a tough victory over Atlantic Division-leading Toronto. All-Star center Shaquille O'Neal led a balanced attack with 16 points and 12 rebounds to lift Miami to a 92-89 victory over the Raptors on Tuesday at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Udonis Haslem finished with 16 points and nine boards, while James Posey was scored just six points but grabbed 13 boards for Miami, which outrebounded Toronto, 48-39.

Miami is just 15-22 on the road this season. The Heat are scheduled to visit Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics on Friday at TD Banknorth Garden.

Cleveland returns home after going 3-2 on a five-game road trip. Superstar LeBron James knocked down a game-high 31 points to lead the Cavaliers to a 101-88 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday at the Target Center.

James, who missed the previous game for the Cavs with tendinitis in his right knee, converted 13-of-24 from the field and was a perfect 5-of-5 at the free- throw line. He played 41-plus minutes and collected 12 rebounds, six assists and four steals.

Drew Gooden posted a double-double with 20 points and a game-high 13 rebounds in the win over Minnesota, while Aleksander Pavlovic contributed 13 points and Daniel Gibson and Larry Hughes scored 11 points apiece in the victory.

The Cavaliers are 27-10 at home this season. They will visit the Washington Wizards on Friday at the Verizon Center and the Detroit Pistons on Sunday at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

04/05 10:40:41 ET


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