So, finally the day came when LeBron returned to South Beach. Heat fans showed a gracious demeanor applauding his past efforts and showing the class the entire nation believes Miami sorely lacks. However, what Miami really wanted was a win for Christmas and that is exactly what the Heat gave. So, instead of regifting, let’s revisit:
1. D-Wade Out, Flash In
You know all is good in the world when Flash takes the floor. The entire first half was a D-Wade highlight reel with 11 of 17 shooting and tough, in your mouth Heat defense ending the night with 31 points, 5 boards, and 5 assists. Such an effort, part of an ever-increasing reemergence for Wade, was accentuated by this thunderous put back dunk over Love:
2. Deng is the Meng, Meng
This game was Deng’s official coming out party. Not only did he score 25 points on an 11 of 16 shooting, many of those shots highly contested, but also his presence around the floor providing 8 rebounds and 8 assists was something to behold. Deng also took the task of closing out the Nameless one with great seriousness proving that Deng is still evolving under the Heat system and on the road towards becoming a dangerous third option for the Heat.
3. Stellar Surrounding Cast
Birdman flew everywhere playing extensive minutes. Norris Cole swiping that loose ball away from Love. Danny Granger (yes that Danny Granger) scoring 7 of his 9 crucial points in the fourth quarter. It is safe to say that the entire team demonstrated a strong unity and sense of team pride throughout the game that was undeniably seen and felt. And providing such an effort with an inactive Bosh and the Napier/Ennis duo left on the bench shows this Heat team remains a team to be reckoned with.
4. Closing Out the Game
If anything, the greatest criticism facing the Heat so far was their inability to finish games. That did not happen against the Cavs. Down the stretch the Heat would adjust, increase their defense, dive for loose balls, and drain shots when they counted. Hopefully, the Heat take this game as precedent for closing out games as the season continues.
5. Miami Class
The biggest talking point among the media was how the Miami crowd would respond to The Return. While your writer here would have preferred a much more stern, indifferent, if not defiant, reaction from the fans, the cheers outnumbered the boos both during the introductions and during the commemorative video. Just as quickly, however, the Heat fans heavily cheered their team while outwardly booing the Cavs. In the end, Miami stays on top of the win column and the best city list showing much more class and stature than Cleveland showed back in 2010.
So, the Heat and the City of Miami provide one more parting Christmas gift to the world with a victory and a public demonstration of its fanbase’s character. All in all, The Return will only be a blip in a still unfolding season where the Heat, barring any more injuries, can take this win and use it to change the course of the season as we shoot for another ring.