INDEPENDENCE (92.3 the Fan) – Tuesday is the first day of the regular season for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
According to them, that’s all it is.
Everybody outside of Cleveland Clinic Courts have tabbed the first game on the NBA schedule in 2017-18 as its biggest game for months. Kyrie Irving will play on the floor of Quicken Loans Arena in his first ever regular season NBA game where he was not donning the wine and gold.
In turn, it will be the first game of the year for the three players that came to Cleveland in the Irving deal, though only one will probably play. Even still, Jae Crowder said he is ‘over’ the trade and looking forward to the next 82 games and beyond.
Even without the trade, there are still storylines between the two sides. The Celtics topped the Cavaliers for the top seed in the East last season before the Cavs went on to their third-straight finals.
That is more where this season’s roster is focused.
“I think it adds another layer to that,” Love said of Irving’s move. “Boston has been a team that continues to get better. They were there in the Eastern Conference Finals last year against us, so yeah, I think that I don’t know that ‘rival’ is the right word, but they’re right up there if not the main competitor, we feel like, with us in the East.”
Love also acknowledged the added emotion for the crowd, especially given the built in excitement for the first game on the schedule.
“We all know Kyrie is a gamer,” Love added. “I loved playing with him, practice even going against him, so I’m sure it’ll be no different come Tuesday. It’s going to be a fight, especially opening night. Crowd is going to be into it, there will be a lot of emotions there.
“But the cliché thing is true. We’ve just got to get a win out there, it doesn’t matter who is out there in what uniform.”
The team has still been focusing on their own makeup considering the drastic turnover from their past two rosters, as Ty Lue said his staff is still training based on what they want to do, ‘working on ourselves.’
With Game 1 on the horizon, that shift is slowly happening between game-planning for Boston and installing their own system. When it manifests itself completely, Lue will have to find a way to stop a player who he has called ‘unstoppable’ when he played in Cleveland.
“He’s still unstoppable,” Lue said of Irving. “He’s still the same player, he’s just with a different team. Offensively, like I said before, he has no offensive weaknesses.”
The focus emotionally will not be on Irving playing for the other side, according to Love, rather cohesion as a unit for those who are still in Cleveland.
“I think whether it was Bron going back to playing in Miami or myself going back to play in Minnesota, different guys that you have going back to different places; I think you always have the acknowledgement that you protect your guys now that you’re on their side,” he said.
Lue told reporters Sunday that LeBron James practiced ‘one-fourth’ of the day’s practice before heading back for cardio work. James played 30 minutes in the pre-season, all coming Tuesday against Chicago.
James participated in on-court activities to the extent of 5-on-0 work before hitting the training room.
Lue did not guarantee James will play on Tuesday.