Early Line: Heat minus-3 versus Cavs 

December, 1, 2010
12/01/10
11:01
AM ET

THE SETUP

There's a game Thursday night. A big game; a game that means nothing and everything all at once. It's a referendum on sports in the modern age, pitting those with talent and money and all the advantages against the weak and jilted and have-nots. It's impossible not to have a side in this matchup -- you are either for LeBron James and the Miami Heat or for his spurned former teammates, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

When the NBA schedule makers set up this game, I'm sure that they, like the rest of us, assumed the Heat would be scorching right now. And the Cavs, well, they would have been the opposite of that. Alas, what this game turns out to be is an early December matchup of two mid-level teams that are wildly inconsistent, showing promise one night and getting blown out the next. None of the preseason expectations have been met, unless you were the one who thought Miami's lack of a point guard and low post presence would mitigate any magic created by the LeBron-Wade-Bosh trio.

But from a handicapping perspective, the fact that both teams are middling right now makes it all the more fascinating.

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