Heat, Cavs set for showdown in south Florida

The Miami Heat will finish a five-game homestand by welcoming the Cavaliers and the new face of their franchise, Kyrie Irving, to the shores of Biscayne Bay.

Cleveland, of course, was the NBA home of superstar LeBron James for the first seven years of his career before the All-Star "took his talents to South Beach" before last season. James was a two-time NBA MVP with the Cavs, a former scoring champion and led the team to the 2007 NBA Finals before the Cavs succumbed to the San Antonio Spurs.

James also led Miami to the NBA Finals last season but the Heat lost in six games to the Dallas Mavericks.

A favorite to win the championship again, Miami has been a bit uneven early in the season, compiling a solid, if unspectacular 11-5 mark.

The Heat have been without star guard Dwyane Wade during their current residency but won the first three tests before finally slipping on Sunday to Milwaukee. Brandon Jennings scored 23 points, dished out six assists and pulled down six rebounds in that one, leading the Bucks to the 91-82 win.

James ended with 28 points, 13 rebounds and five assists for the Heat, who have lost four of seven overall. Chris Bosh donated 23 points and six boards.

"Give them credit, they came in here and got a tough win," Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra said. "They did a great job of moving the ball and finding open gaps and cutting into open areas behind our defense."

Wade continues to recover from a right ankle injury after dealing with foot pain earlier in the season. The Heat have more than held their own without him, compiling a 6-1 mark sans Wade in the lineup this season. His status remains uncertain for tonight.

The Heat, who are 6-2 at home this season, will make a quick stop in Detroit on Wednesday before returning to South Beach for three more games.

Cleveland, meanwhile, continues to rebuild in the wake of James' departure. Overall, the club has been much more competitive this season but has dropped a season-high three in a row after a 121-94 drubbing at the hands of the Hawks in the ATL on Saturday.

Irving scored 18 points in that one to pace the Cavaliers, who were coming off another rout to Chicago a day earlier.

"That's just a learning experience for us," Irving said. "Play two great teams and just seeing things they do offensively and defensively, I think we all can learn something from it."

Fellow rookie Tristan Thompson contributed 16 points off the bench despite suffering a left ankle sprain in the fourth quarter. Alonzo Gee finished with 14 points and Ramon Sessions added 13 for Cleveland.

"I thought this week coming up was going to test us," Cavs coach Byron Scott said. "We'll see how these guys can handle it after the last two nights. Sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom to learn, but I don't think we're anywhere near rock bottom yet. Last year we lost 26 in a row, so hopefully we won't see that streak start again."

Scott said Thompson's ankle looked OK on Monday and he should be a game-time decision tonight.

The Heat and Cavaliers are meeting for the first of three matchups this season. In 2010-11, Miami took three of four from the Cavs.