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As dramatic as the anticipation was, the finale to the Cavs’ preseason rivalry matchup with the Miami Heat was even more epic than what anyone expected. The Cavaliers resiliently won in the final seconds of OT against the Heat, 122-119. Kevin Love led the way 25 points and 7 rebounds, which we can only take as a sign that he heard Chris Bosh’s comments doubting his transition with the Cavs. LeBron played unselfishly and efficiently, and while only shooting 25% on the floor and scoring 7 points, he facilitated the offense with 8 assists. Dion Waiters filled a vacant backcourt without Kyrie Irving, scoring 16 points on 58% from the floor. As expected, Chris Bosh led Miami with 19 points and 8 rebounds alongside D-Wade’s contribution of 12 points and 7 assists. However, the highlight of the night wasn’t either teams’ starting lineup; it came down to the strength of each team’s bench. Here are the complete highlights of the Cavs’ incredible win over the Miami Heat:

While both teams’ superstars were put to the test tonight, the strength and depth of their benches were also in question. For a first glimpse, both performed well. Tristan Thompson led the Cavs’ second unit, scoring 18 points. While Varejao started this game, both players equal playing time, and Thompson out rebounded Varejao 9 to 3. In total, the bench contributed 57 points. While Miller went 0-4 shooting and Dellavedova fouled out with only 3 points, rookies A.J. Price put up 12 points and Joe Harris scored 11 points, including two clutch free throws that sealed the deal in OT. The Heat’s bench wasn’t too bad itself, scoring a total of 67 points for the game. Rookies James Ennis and Shabazz Napier came up big, scoring a combined 33 points and 9 assists.

There were a lot of experiments under a microscope tonight. Kevin Love appeared to meet Chris Bosh’s challenge with his solid performance. It took Bosh years to learn how to spread the floor and find open three-pointers that he could knock down. Tonight, Kevin Love was lights out, hitting 4 of 5 from beyond the arc. How’s that for transitioning?

Also highly anticipated was the play of Matthew Dellavedova in Kyrie’s
absence tonight. Um… not too good. In 33 minutes, he only managed to contribute 3 points and 4 assists in a foul-out effort. While the Cavs’ bench was convincing, Delly didn’t make a strong case for a reliable backup Point Guard. This wasn’t the only question in regards to the Cavaliers backcourt tonight. While he scored double-digits, Dion Waiters made some controversial shots and passes in the first quarter while playing as a starter. Coach Blatt’s Princeton Offense involves an extraordinary amount of movement and timely passes. Waiters didn’t display his decision-making capabilities, struggling to execute entry passes and play his role in the offense’s system. Jumping before passing and taking too many contested shots were things he may have gotten away with, but these are notable flaws that, depending on how he deals with them, will make a difference in the most crucial games later this season.

In regards to LeBron’s reunion with his friends from South Beach, all players showed respect and good body language. Everyone forgot about the media and slander when they stepped onto the court, and two great teams played great basketball:

Here LeBron delivers his inspirational words before the game, getting the boys pumped to dominate:

Onto the court, we get a first glimpse of LeBron’s new 12’s:


@dwyanewade & @kingjames lace up for the #NBAGlobalGames: Rio on ESPNews. #EverybodyUp

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Here’s an awesome “Phantom” view of Dion and LeBron connecting for a sweet dunk in transition:

Tonight also validates the Cavs’ strength because they faced not only their first NBA team this season, but also an exceptional team; people noticed!

Anderson also had an amazing experience with his two homes coming together, creating a domestic display in an international atmosphere:

But of course, you’ll always have bloopers. Like when your star player accidentally sets a pick for the other team. We love you, LeBron; but you have to show us love, not Norris Cole:

This game met all expectations of excitement, and best of all, the Cavs season is just getting started: