Although there was some playful jawing between James and J.J. Hickson about James' hairline, this felt like just another game, unlike the previous two meetings between the Heat and Cavs. James followed his 13-assist effort in Oklahoma City with another pass-first outing, constantly scanning the periphery for Heat shooters on the perimeter and Dwyane Wade on basket cuts.
Wade was the man with the ball for much of the game, looking to attack the overwhelmed Cavaliers defense. His second-quarter exhibition had something for everyone -- a slick rocker step to clear space for a jumper, a baseline drive for a slam courtesy of LeBron, a slashing drive through two defenders and a pull-up 3-pointer.
Coming off a 36-minute outing Sunday in Oklahoma City, Bosh was used more sparingly and the effects of the sore high left ankle sprain were more apparent. He drained a few silky jumpers from the right elbow but wasn't as fluid on dribble drives and was noticeably slower recovering on Cavaliers pick-and-rolls.
A few minutes into the second half, Cleveland had whittled the Miami lead down to three points. The Heat outscored the Cavs 47-23 the rest of the way, pressuring them in the half court, with James in particular murdering the rim -- further evidence that the Heat are at their strongest when they're attacking.
The Cavs actually made it a game after intermission when they capitalized on some ill-advised Miami attempts. But the Cavs' defense always rises to the surface. They fail to defend the break, don't chase shooters off the line, get crossed up on simple half-court coverages and lack size. All of it added up Monday to a 21st consecutive loss.