CLEVELAND OH - DECEMBER 02: Fans hold up t shirts to show their displeasure with LeBron James prior to the Cleveland Cavaliers playing the Miami Heat at Quicken Loans Arena on December 2 2010 in Cleveland Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and or using this photograph User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Before I get into my preview I feel it is necessary to wish a happy 49th birthday to one Michael Jordan. As basketball fans, this is worth acknowledging. Happy birthday, MJ!
Anyway, here we go. Cavaliers-Heat, once again. This time, however, the Cavaliers aren't taking their talents southward -- the South Beachers are coming up to the shores of Lake Erie. And you know what that means: LBJ is back.
You can still get tickets to this game, I promise. http://tiqiq.us/7.W
Song Of The Day: You're Gonna Go Far, Kid - The Offspring
Just another game, right? Eh, probably not. The Q should be rockin' as No. 6 makes his return to Cleveland. The venom should be in full effect despite the comments that James made yesterday. I want the Cavs to come out with high energy for every game, but this is really the one game in which you cannot fall flat. I trust Byron Scott to have his guys ready and I fully expect the Cavs to give Miami as much as they can handle.
This is the third meeting between these two teams so on the court, there isn't all that much new to talk about. The Cavaliers are once again undermanned with the injuries to Daniel Gibson and Anderson Varejao. Regardless, I have faith that the added motivation and support from a raucous crowd will help the Cavs overcome the disparity in talent and keep the game competitive.
Kyrie Irving played wonderfully in his return from injury and will have to have another really good game if we intend to win tonight. He's the driving force of this offense and without Varejao, he needs to take control as the emotional leader as well. Getting everybody involved but also stepping up and taking over for stretches will be imperative for Kyrie tonight.
As an aside, I know that it is killing Boobie Gibson to not be able to play in this game. He really doesn't like LeBron.
I don't know if you were expecting a big inspirational preview about how we're gonna stick it to LeBron and all the things that we nee to do to win, but I don't really have that today. We've played the Heat twice already, we've kept it close but weren't able to finish with a victory either time. Alonzo Gee needs to cover either Dwyane Wade or LeBron and keep them in check as much as possible. We need Semih Erden to come out and have another good game and do his best to dominate Joel Anthony. We need the crowd to be loud (it will be) and we need Byron Scott to have his guys ready. There isn't all that much more to say.
However, I'll say a tiny bit more.
This will be Tigger's first time in a game between Miami and Cleveland. He missed the previous two meetings with an ankle injury, and it's not a stretch to say that the Cavs missed his length, energy, and athleticism in the paint. In the first game, Chris Bosh completely torched the likes of Ryan Hollins, Samardo Samuels, and Antawn Jamison. Thompson has sufficient physical tools to keep up with Bosh and should do a much better job limiting him than anyone else on the roster could.
Fear The Sword's Fearless Prediction:
I think (read: hope) that the Cavs will come out completely fired up. The rookies will be pumped up playing in front of such a crazy crowd and Irving should do his normal dazzling thing. I think it's apparent that LeBron is bothered by all of the booing from Cleveland fans and it's possible that it affects his play tonight. He's noted that this year has been much more fun and carefree than last year. I have a feeling that tonight's atmosphere is going to be a lot like what he experienced last year. I'll be the eternal optimistic and predict that the Cavs ride the support of the Cleveland faithful and pull out a 98-95 win.
"I've got a goal, and it's a big goal. And that's to bring an NBA championship here to Cleveland, and I won't stop til I get it." -LBJ
Forgive if you want, but never ever forget.