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Cleveland Cavaliers: Top 5 Things to Watch in LeBron James Return vs New York Knicks
The day Cleveland Cavaliers fans have been waiting for is finally here, as the NBA finally released the 2014-2015 schedule. At the top of the list is the opener to the season, as all of Cleveland will pack Quicken Loans Arena on Thursday October 30th to welcome home LeBron James against the New York Knicks.
According to the Cleveland Cavaliers website, the Cavaliers—as we all figured they would—have jumped back into the primetime spotlight. Their release shows 10 games on ESPN, 10 games on TNT, five games on ABC and four games on NBA TV—meaning 29 of the team’s 82 games will be in front of the nation to see.
Thanks to James’ decision to return home, the Cavaliers were immediately thrust back into the national spotlight. On top of that, the rumored trade for Kevin Love will give the team one of the best trios of players if it goes down. With All-Star Kyrie Irving, Love and James, the Cavaliers have not only the national spotlight shining down on them, but a major target from the rest of the league.
With all of this in mind, the game against the Knicks will have a lot to watch for. While there are obviously a ton of storylines and this list can go on forever, I have decided to narrow it to the Top 5 items that you should focus on in that game.
Chalk Toss or No Chalk Toss?
Alright, before we dive into the serious stuff the question has to be asked—will LeBron return to Cleveland with the chalk toss he made famous during his first stint with the team? I think this is an obvious yes, but the Cavaliers organization will have an opportunity to make this even more exciting for the fans than in the past.
Last year during the Zydrunas Ilgauskas jersey retirement, the Cavaliers showed off some incredible projection work on the court (see the video below), so why not try and do something like this in the stands or on the court with the powder? Could you imagine a nationally televised backdrop of the chalk toss with a video powder toss element in the background? I’m getting chills just thinking about it.
The only possible way it could be any better would be if Skylar Grey was singing her widely famous “Coming Home” song.
The ball is in your court Cavaliers organization.
An Epic LeBron vs Carmelo Anthony Battle
We all want to see a Cavaliers dominating victory, but how awesome would a LeBron-Carmelo scoring battle be to watch on opening night? After drowning in four years of pretty bad basketball, there would be no better way to ring in a new era of Cavaliers basketball than with these two going toe to toe like they have in the past.
Also, it is going to be interesting to see the thinned down versions of James and Anthony play the game. With less weight to carry, this could be one of those matchups you tell your children about for years to come—especially if you are there.
How Thin are the Cavaliers Up Front?
The Knicks boast a current roster of Samuel Dalembert, Kenyon Martin, Jason Smith, Ama’re Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani in their front court as of today. With Love’s (presuming the trade is finalized) known defensive lapses, the Cavaliers do not exactly have a ton of defensive presence in their front court.
Anderson Varejao is injury prone, and Tristan Thompson is considered undersized for the center position, making things rather difficult for the Cavaliers to matchup with bigger, more physical front courts. If the Cavaliers cannot acquire a big man before the season starts and the Knicks are firing on all cylinders, this could be a tough battle for the Cavaliers to win.
A Big Night for Kyrie?
The Knicks current starting point guard is slated to be Jose Calderon more than likely, who will be playing his first game with the Knicks after being acquired in the offseason. While Calderon is a nice player, the young Irving could be in for a big night if Calderon is still getting used to the players around him.
While New York retained Anthony in the offseason, they brought in a few new pieces that are all going to have to get used to playing together. Though the Cavaliers will have the same thing going on with James and possibly Love, it is much easier when your top three players all know how to distribute—which is the case with the Cavaliers.
Do not be surprised if Irving steals the show on LeBron’s return to Cleveland.
New Leading Man at the Helm
In what has seemingly been pushed to the back of everyone’s minds thanks to the James and Love talk, the Cavaliers are ushering in their new era with first-time NBA head coach David Blatt at the helm. Though Blatt is no stranger to being a head coach in his lifetime, he will be attempting to install a system in the NBA for the first time.
At first we thought this would not be a problem with the youngsters and willing passers, however, Blatt will now have to tailor his system to fit the needs and ability to two of the Top 5 scorers in the NBA. For a fiery, passionate coach who demands the most out of his players, it will be intriguing to see how he works with two players—especially James—who are veterans who like to be fully involved in the huddle and coaching up their teammates.
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