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LeBron, Cavs In Miami To Face Heat

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MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) –LeBron James is used to making the players around him better.

When James bolted Miami to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, he expressed a desire to help Kyrie Irving become one of the best point guards in the NBA.

Irving's recent play proves that just may be the case.

He'd prefer not to have to carry the load by himself Monday night in Miami, where James is hoping an awkward fall won't keep him from making his second return to South Beach to face the Heat.

James took Miami to the NBA Finals in each of his four seasons with the Heat, winning two championships before deciding in the offseason to again play for his hometown team.

In the essay explaining his decision, James mentioned an urge to assist Irving in taking his game to the next level. That's exactly what Irving has done lately, averaging 37.3 points on the first three stops of Cleveland's four-game trip while shooting 63.3 percent from the field and hitting 13 of 15 from 3-point range.

Irving followed up his 57-point barrage in San Antonio on Thursday by hitting 12 of 15 from the floor - 5 of 6 from 3-point range - and scoring 33 points as Cleveland (43-25) beat Orlando 123-108 on Sunday. He's shooting 41.4 percent from 3-point range and 47.4 percent overall on the season, marks that would be the highest of his career.

"Someone did ask me, `What do you do for an encore for (San Antonio)?' I didn't have a good answer," coach David Blatt said. "But 12 for 15 from the field, 33 points in 34 minutes, that's a pretty good encore."

James scored 31 points against the Spurs and had 21 and 13 assists against Orlando as Kevin Love rested, but he tweaked his right knee in the second half against the Magic and expects to receive treatment Monday. He's hoping it won't keep him from facing his former team.

"I couldn't get my foot from underneath me and I was able to play through it obviously and see how I feel (Monday) and go from there," he said. "I haven't had one of those falls in (forever), in a pretty long time. ... I was happy to be able to stay on the floor with my teammates."

James had 30 points in his first return to Miami on Christmas Day, but the Heat got 31 from Dwyane Wade in a 101-91 win.

James got the best of his former team Feb. 11 in Cleveland, finishing with 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in a 113-93 victory - one of the Cavs' 21 wins in 24 games since Christmas when James, Irving and Love have all been in the lineup.

Wade sat out that contest, but he enters this one averaging 28.0 points over his last five after scoring 25 in Friday's 102-92 loss at Toronto.

"Wherever LeBron goes, attention follows," Wade said. "The excitement of beating him and beating his teams is always going to be there. They're a totally different team the last time we played them (in Miami). We're a team fighting for the playoffs."

The Heat (29-36), who trail Charlotte by one-half game for the Eastern Conference's final playoff spot, committed 20 turnovers against the Raptors.

"At least 10 of them were unforced," coach Erik Spoelstra lamented. "We weren't really able to keep that collective mental toughness through those mistakes offensively. That led to some defensive breakdowns and it went from there."

Hassan Whiteside, who had 17 points and 14 rebounds in the last meeting with the Cavs, returned from a one-game suspension and finished with 12 rebounds against the Raptors after elbowing Boston's Kelly Olynyk on Monday.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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