The last time the Heat and Cavaliers squared off in Cleveland, the media circus was unavoidable. Fans were rallying via different mediums, security was being increased ten-fold, and outsiders were giving their various takes on just what exactly fans of the Wine and Gold should do as LeBron James made his first apprearance to the visiting locker room at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Heat were a concern-causing 11-8 on the season, with five losses coming on the road. The Cavaliers were doing better than anyone had anticipated, just a few games behind the Big Three at 7-10. And then the game happened.
Now, the Cavaliers find themselves 36.5 games behind the Heat, who are vying for the top seed in the Eastern Conference with just two full weeks of regular season basketball to be played. Taking to the practice court yesterday, only Daniel Gibson, JJ Hickson and Anthony Parker had played alongside James when the two-time MVP was here just 10 months earlier.
Even Dan Gilbert – who couldn’t have helped rid Cleveland of all things James fast enough – could not conceivably see this roster be as different today as it was a year prior. The result: Tuesday night’s game against one of the biggest road shows in the NBA is not sold out.
Here is what others are saying about this potential non-event:
With injuries that have knocked starters out for the season and a couple trades that began a large-scale rebuilding process, James’ former team is nearly unrecognizable. There are only three players currently on the active roster who played with James last season.
It’s just one of several reasons James’ second return with the Miami Heat on Tuesday night isn’t generating the furor in Northeast Ohio as his first visit did back on Dec. 2. [...]
[T]hings are different. For one, the Cavs are playing out the string of one of the worst seasons in team history as injuries have plagued them all season. Second, the rabid fans from December have been disenchanted after seeing the Cavs set an NBA record with a 26-game losing streak. – Brian Windhorst
Scott has noticed a change in the psyche of Cleveland fans. When he first arrived, he sensed their disappointment in James for abandoning them, and hardly a day passed without him being told that the only thing that mattered this season was “to beat Miami.”
Cavaliers fans seem to have moved on. – Associated Press
We’re expecting shenanigans.” – Chris Bosh
LeBron has reasons to think that things will be less crazy: Time heals all wounds, I suppose, and most fans probably got their anger out in the first meeting between the teams. However, it’s worth noting that the first meeting between these teams came at a time when the Cavs were at least a passable squad rather than a historically inept operation. When facing the abyss of a terrible season, when fans react with increased anger. It’s easy to imagine some Cleveland fans not calming down, but actually getting angrier at LeBron for the way he did the Cavs dirty last summer. – Eric Freeman/BDL
So, what say Ye, Cavs fans? Are you still of the mindset that every “homecoming” will be pitchforks and torches, or did we get everything out in December?
More importantly, will there be any shenanigans?
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)