The Cleveland Cavaliers have already made their second LeBron James era debut in front of the home fans, but against another team? Their 107-80 win over Maccabi Tel-Aviv, the former team of head coach David Blatt, proved to be another smooth milestone on the way to hopefully contending and maybe even winning the NBA title.
The biggest thing for the fans was seeing James, Love and Kyrie Irving playing against a different team for the first time. This is only a preseason game, and against an overseas team to make it seem even less indicative of anything about the Cavs. And yet the excitement, the packed house, all made it feel a lot more important.
James played 20 minutes, scored 12 points and added 4 rebounds and 4 assists. According to him his back still needs some time to rest. Irving scored 16 points in 26 minutes while Kevin Love didn’t get that many touches or attempt to score too much, finishing with 8 points and 11 rebounds, knocking down one three pointer off a LeBron James assist.
Dion Waiters played in the backcourt, scoring 15 points, and Tristan Thompson joined them in the starting five again. It’s still a question whether or not this will actually be the lineup, leaving Anderson Varejao to come off the bench as a backup center, but against the defending Euroleague champions it was more than enough.
For Blatt, who has coached Maccabi on and off for six seasons, winning five league championships and one Euroleague title as a head coach (has a few more as the assistant), it was a bit more special than to everyone else. Hugging with former players and coaching staff members, it’s incredible to think that he took a job that has turned from a rebuilding one into that of coaching three of the best players in the league, with expectations to win the East and content for a ring, something that the Cavaliers (not to mention the city of Cleveland) are desperately hungry for.
It was something of a remotely close game in the first half until the Cavs completely ran away with it in the third quarter. Joe Harris came off the bench to score 10 points, James Jones scored six, Mike Miller added five and Shawn Marion, who will be backing up James but also get some minutes at power forward more than likely, finished with 2 points and 6 rebounds.
There’s nothing serious to take from these wins. More than warm up for the team, it’s about getting the fan base excited about the new season, as if the arrival of James and Love isn’t enough.