The beginning of a new Cavs season will start at 8:00 tonight when the Cavs take on the Boston Celtics in Cleveland for the inaugural game of the 2017-2018 NBA season. It is the first chance to see Kyrie Irving back in Cleveland in a different uniform, the first big game for Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, and Jae Crowder on the Cavs, and the beginning of what could be a great rivalry this season. It’s hard to blame anyone for being excited, and like most fans I will be watching the whole game, but what separates this game from any other this season? Should we expect to see our best product on the floor right now while everyone (except Isaiah Thomas) is healthy? Here’s what we should really be looking for tonight.
If you like to make predictions or bet on games, this game is one that could very well prove you wrong. Last year San Antonio beat Golden State in Oakland 129-100 in Kevin Durant’s first game, causing many to speculate whether Golden State was legit or if San Antonio’s experience made them superior. The Cavs are in a similar situation this year as they have added many new pieces and are playing another top team in their conference. Why does this matter? Chemistry issues are a common theme for newly structured teams, which are likely to happen to Minnesota and Oklahoma City this season. While the Cavs still have LeBron and Love at the forefront, the Cavs are going to experience early season issues from sharing to shooting the ball. I’m saying this to point out that this game should be unexpected in terms of how the Cavs will perform, so don’t assume the Cavs will win big or even win at all.
I will say, however, that when watching this game you shouldn’t feel worried about this team. The Cavs are going to get better as the season continues and game 1 is the best chance to see what these guys can all do. Pay attention for Wade and LeBron’s offensive connection, and perhaps an alley-oop or two (unless LeBron doesn’t play, then I guess Wade to Jeff Green?).Watch as Derrick Rose returns to his old self and cut to the basket for an astounding layup. Admire the defensive prowess of Jae Crowder and witness Kevin Love starting at center. There are many new sights to see from this Cavs team tonight and win or lose somebody is going to foreshadow his skills for the other 81 games this season. Don’t let any negatives from tonight outweigh the numerous points of enjoyment and awe that will take place for 48 minutes.
Finally, it is obvious that many eyes will be on Kyrie tonight. Whether you decide to cheer him or boo him, his abilities on the floor shouldn’t be a surprise. We have seen what he can do when he was with the Cavs and all that will change from him now is a higher usage percentage and maybe a few more points and assists. It will be interesting to see how Kyrie handles the crowd, hostile or welcoming. Will his game be affected? Will Kyrie show any respect or disrespect for the Cavs players and fans? Even if Kyrie underperforms, it will be hard to forget about the special talent that we parted with this offseason, even when we got Thomas, Crowder, and Zizic in return.
Ultimately, this game is nothing more than a battle between two great teams. This won’t be a Finals game, nor will it feel like a game with a predetermined outcome. There is statistically little chance that the winner of this game will determine who gets the #1 seed in the East or even who heads to the Finals. With that being said, watch this game for the abundance of talent and with the notion that this is only a small sample of all the games we will see this season. Don’t pencil in a winner or write off players already: just respect the game.