Game Notes: Heat at Cavs
You already knew…
by Rodger Bohn / @rodgerbohn
In what was deemed by many to be the most anticipated return in the history of any sport, Cleveland fans have had December 2 circled on their calendars, set as events in their blackberries, and/or simply just etched in their heads since “The Decision” nearly five months ago. LeBron James‘ departure from C-town flat out took the hearts of many Cavs fans and sent a city that has been battling not to be the poorest in America year in and year out back to its knees.
Lang Whitaker put in work with his live blog from last night, so there’s really no reason for me to repeat what he already so eloquently said. Most of you saw the disturbing 118-90 victory that the Miami Heat walked away with and, for those of you who didn’t, the game truly wasn’t even that close if you ask me… or Byron Scott for that matter.
“Disappointed, because I know we can play better. I really do,” the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ skipper said. “I’ve seen us play much better than we played tonight, and I know we can play a lot better than we played tonight.”
With that basically summing up the story of the actual game itself, let’s shift focus on to the reaction that the Cleveland fans gave to LeBron upon his return. I arrived at the Q nearly two hours before tip-off and it was already quite a frenzy down there. All of the local bars that I walked past were packed with fans gathering their liquid courage to release their hatred toward the King. There were at least 3,000 fans already in the gym by the time that I took my seat around 6:30. The media coverage and cell phone use was so rampant that you couldn’t connect to the arena’s wifi, nor could you get much cell reception at all. Needless to say, chaotic would be the ideal word to describe the way that things were going before the game.
As you all saw on TV, the fans’ reaction to LeBron was a bit deafening as soon as he took the court for pre-game shootaround and only got worse leading up to the game. The boo birds gained more fury as the game got closer and exploded the very first time that the King touched the rock. After getting it in a post up on the right block, James calmly faced up and drilled an 18 foot jumper over the smaller Anthony Parker to start the game off. The Cavs stayed in the game early on, clinging to a 17-17 tie but the game quickly slipped out of their grasps as LeBron appeared to be closing in on a triple double in the first quarter. The fans then grew more hostile and got a little creative with their chants.
“De-Lon-Te,” “Akron hates you,” “Everybody hates you,” “Scottie Pippen,” “@$$hole” and “Who’s your Daddy?” were among the quotes that echoed from the stands throughout the game. One may assume that the relatively low blows by the fans may have gotten to the man who was once known as the King of Cleveland, but he shrugged off that notion.
“Nah, like I said, it’s nothing personal. It’s a basketball game. I don’t hold any grudges,” LeBron stated when asked if his feelings were a bit hurt at all by the chants. “They came out to support their team and tried anything. I don’t have any hard or hurt feelings from what these fans said.”
Well, Cavaliers fans sure had some hurt feelings after James dropped his monster 24-point third quarter last night. As early as midway through the third, fans who paid hundreds of dollars for tickets were seen turning their backs to the floor and looking for the nearest exit. LeBron (and Miami as a whole, for that matter) had all cylinders working, pushing the tempo of the game and offering their full arsenal of talents. Most impressive to me is that LeBron had his 38 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds without getting one single dunk or getting to the line a large number of times. He was killing the Cavs with his skill level, as opposed to his athleticism.
The game was pretty ugly at the end of the 3rd with the Heat boasting a 95-65 lead. LeBron was on the bench and done for the night. He could have dropped 50 if he wanted with the amount of swag that he had out there, but Coach Spo took the high road and kept him out for the final stanza. The Heat wound up cruising to a 118-90 victory, leaving many Cleveland fans wondering what would have been had “The Decision” been different. LeBron himself even half-admitted that he could have went about things in a better way.
“At the end of the day do I regret what I did? No, I never regret any decisions that I make. You just try to learn from some of the things that you do in life,” James explained when asked if he regretted leaving Cleveland. “Like I said, my intentions was on point, but maybe the execution was a little off.”
For the Heat, it looks like they’re finally putting it together 20 games into the season. I mean, who honestly would have thought that you could put three guys together who averaged around 70 shots combined last season and they’d mesh instantaneously? Everyone seems to be taking their turns offensively, and it’s likely that either Bron or Flash will be flirting with a triple-double on a nightly basis (Wade had 22, 9 and 9 last night). If Miami can keep up this style of up-tempo basketball for the remainder of the season, you’re looking at this guy’s choice to be hoisting the trophy at the end of the year.
As for the Cavs, this was a fairly accurate depiction of what the team has to offer. They’ve over-achieved early on this season, winning games strictly off of hustle. It’s evident once the shot clock dips below 10 seconds how much trouble the team is in with perhaps the lowest amount of shot creators of any team in the League. I wouldn’t mind seeing them blow it up and trade Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison to contenders for a few young pieces, cap relief and draft picks in return. What’s the point of fighting for an eight seed at best?
Well, as Cleveland fans have grown to say over the last 50 years, “There’s always next year.”