Cleveland's surge has turned the Central Division into a two-team race between themselves and the Indiana Pacers, with the victors likely also claiming the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Cavaliers (44-29) lead the Pacers by 1.5 games with nine games left and opened their three-game road swing with a 121-114 victory at Brooklyn on Sunday.
LeBron James finished two assists shy of a triple-double, finishing with 37 points and ten rebounds, while Kevin Love added 20 points and 15 rebounds as Cleveland shot 50.6 percent and outscored Brooklyn 52-38 in the paint to offset 17 3-pointers by the Nets. The Cavaliers also got strong performances from reserves Rodney Hood and Jordan Clarkson, who combined for 34 of the team's 42 bench points.
Cleveland have averaged 122.2 points during their five-game winning streak, shooting 49.4 percent or better in every game and 51.8 percent overall during this run. They also have connected on 40.4 percent of their 3-point shots while averaging 12.6 makes.
Miami (39-34) are 1.5 games behind Washington in the Southeast Division with nine games to play but have squandered opportunities to cut into that deficit with back-to-back losses while the Wizards have dropped three straight. The Heat are coming off a 113-107 overtime loss at Indiana on Sunday as Tyler Johnson hit five 3-pointers and finished with 19 points to lead six players in double figures.
Center Bam Adebayo had 14 points after totaling 13 in his last three games combined, and the rookie likely will make his ninth straight start as Hassan Whiteside continues to be sidelined with a strained hip flexor. Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk have been filling the void in the middle, and Olynyk had 12 points, nine rebounds and nine assists off the bench Sunday.