Miami Heat: 10 Predictions for First Heat-Cavs Showdown in Cleveland
Finally, Cleveland fans can circle a date on their calenders.
The NBA has announced that the Cavaliers will host the Heat on Dec. 2 in what will undoubtedly be one of the most interesting games of the upcoming season.
On Tuesday, LeBron James took out a full-page ad thanking his fans for their support. The ad referenced James' native Akron but made no mention of Cleveland.
As if Cavalier fans needed another reason to feel slighted.
The anticipated return of the banished prodigal son should create terrific theater. It is also likely to create considerable pain and angst for LeBron James.
Here's a look at 10 possible outcomes of LeBron's return to northeast Ohio:
The King Makes a Quiet Return
The Cavaliers fans will be ready to make their thoughts known from the moment LeBron lands at Cleveland Hopkins.
According to Joakim Noah, there isn't much to do in Cleveland. That might be a good thing for the Heat, who are likely to enjoy a rollicking nightlife and draw more attention than the Beatles as they stampede through NBA cities.
If LeBron makes a public appearance, things will certainly be a bit tense. Fans are likely to give him a rude welcome from the moment he steps onto the court in Quicken Loans Arena.
Cavaliers Fans Come Ready To Boo
There is no question that LeBron will still have some support when he returns to Cleveland. However, the prevailing anti-LeBron sentiments should make for an entertaining pregame atmosphere.
The masses will assemble wearing a variety of defaced LeBron jersey's, holding signs dissing their former hero, reminding him about his mom and Delonte West, and generally go to any and all extremes to make life miserable for the Heat.
The famed Dawg Pound will be seated next to Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, who will sit angrily with his arms folded plotting ways to unload his fallen franchise.
If LeBron had any questions regarding what his reception would be, they should be answered well before tip-off.
LeBron Takes The Mic
By all accounts, LeBron James wants to be liked. Would he dare take the mic and thank Cleveland fans in what would amount to a half-hearted apology of sorts?
Common sense says no. Then again, common sense also said that a one-hour national television special would have been a bad idea.
It's hard to imagine anyone advising LeBron that a speech prior to the game would be a good idea. That doesn't mean LeBron won't try to address his former admirers.
In the immortal words of Kevin Garnett, "anything is possible."
The Pregame Ritual Is Aborted
Pregame festivities in Cleveland during the LeBron years gradually took on a carnival-like atmosphere. Choreographed introductions involving the entire team were capped-off by LeBron's trademarked chalk to the sky act at the scorers table.
There is little doubt that Miami's attention mongers will execute a variety of stunts before, during and after games next season.
It might be a good idea to hold off on the antics for one night.
So, in an amazing development, LeBron will keep it simple in the introductions as a chorus of boos reigns down from above.
Fans React To The First
The first time LeBron touches the ball, Cavaliers' fans will absolutely let him have it. Boos, chants, words that can't be written here; it will all happen.
This will repeat itself as LeBron makes his first basket against the Cavaliers. And win he steps to the free throw line, chants of "traitor" will resonate throughout Quicken Loans Arena.
All of the firsts should make for a surreal scene in Cleveland. Meanwhile, the Heat will embark on turning a tragedy into a comedy.
Although opinion on just how well the Heat will mesh varies. There is almost no doubt that Dwyane Wade and LeBron will create dozens of spectacular highlights throughout the season.
When LeBron puts down an alley-oop, the boos will subside, if only for a moment. A hush will come over the crowd.
And then, the feelings of jealousy will return and the booing will intensify.
LeBron's reaction to the chaos will be fascinating. Will he linger on the perimeter and facilitate for teammates? Or will he attack the basket with furious anger and risk hard fouls and painful trips to the free throw line?
The Dirty Play
Mo Williams hasn't exactly ingratiated himself to Cleveland fans during his first two years. His tendency to fade in big games while being torched on the defensive end had the Cavaliers looking to move his contract—even before LeBron decided to go elsewhere.
What better way to gain support than to trip LeBron as the teams head up the court. It would look innocent enough and inspire home fans to cheer the home team instead of booing the visiting team.
December 2 will be the Cavaliers' moment in the sun, and it's unlikely they will go down without a fight.
The Heat Pull Away Late, Win By Double Digits
The Cavaliers will give it their best shot, but the Heat will be fired up. Talent will prevail.
The game has the potential to be sloppy and filled with fouls. The atmosphere will have both teams out of sorts, which could make for a great deal of wasted effort and poor execution.
Williams will lead the the Cavs in scoring with over 25 points and Wade will drop around 30 to lead the Heat.
The Final Numbers For LeBron and The Other Former Cavalier
LeBron's all-around brilliance will be on display in the Heat's win. He will have a quiet scoring game thanks to a reluctance to shoot the ball but finish with a triple-double.
Meanwhile, his teammate Zydrunas Ilgauskas will quietly chip in with a double-double in his return to Cleveland.
Ilgauskas, who took out a full-page ad in the Cleveland Plain Dealer thanking fans, will most likely receive a warm reaction from fans.
The game might be over, but the postgame reaction is just beginning.
LeBron will face a myriad of questions from the media, which will be based largely on what transpires before and during the game.
His demeanor after the game will be fascinating to observe, as will his answers to questions like "are you sad that the fans turned their back on you?"
Money and fame simply can't mask all human emotions.
Mark your calenders, NBA fans.