LeBron James will make his highly anticipated return to Miami on Christmas day, as the Cleveland Cavaliers face off against the Heat (5:00 p.m. Eastern on ABC).
This will be James’ first game in Miami since he left the Heat this summer via free agency and returned home to Cleveland. Former teammate Dwyane Wade harbors no ill-will toward James and hopes that Miami fans will cheer him when he’s introduced on Thursday.
“It’s going to be a mixture,” Wade said of the Miami crowd’s likely reaction. “How I think he should be received is a little different. The man helped take us to places we’ve only been once before he got here. So I think he should be received very well for that at the start of the game. And then when the game comes on, then do what you’ve got to do [as fans].”
Heat forward/center Chris Bosh may not be on the court for the Big 3’s reunion. Bosh has been sidelined by a calf injury for the last five games, but he does hope to return for Thursday.
Bosh’s calf strain is just the latest setback for a Miami team that has has been decimated by the injury bug this season. Along with Bosh, the Heat are currently missing Josh McRoberts, Hassan Whiteside, and Justin Hamilton, with McRoberts lost for the season. Wade also missed a large chunk of time earlier in the year.
Thanks in part to all the injuries, the Heat stand at 13-15, good for only seventh in the weak Eastern Conference.
The 16-10 Cavs are still building team chemistry, but are trending upward. With each passing game, James is getting more and more comfortable with his new teammates. And while his field goal percentage isn’t what it was in Miami, James is still averaging 25.2 points, 7.8 assists, and 5.2 rebounds per game.
Thursday’s game will be an emotional test for both teams. James and Wade remain great friends, but they will be competing hard for a Christmas day win.
(Photo credit: Keith Allison from Baltimore, USA (LeBron James) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)