The most ominous glimpse of what is to come this season took place in a blink -- a pass to
Win they did Tuesday, 92-87 over the visiting Charlotte Bobcats (
"If Delonte doesn't play, they've got
So good is LeBron that he dunked and otherwise scored his 15 points in 15 first-half minutes while rarely accelerating past second gear. Shaq finished with six points (2 for 5), three rebounds and a blocked shot in 16 minutes.
"I'm still learning the offense and how to play with everybody, but come the opening of the season I'll be ready and we'll be ready,'' said O'Neal. "I'm not looking to take 20 to 30 shots a game.''
The fans here in Cleveland had the best perspective. Thousands of them stayed home to leave the Quicken Loans Arena half-empty (or half-full, depending on your perspective) in stark demonstration of their understanding that nothing memorable would happen here. And of course they were right. Before the game Cleveland coach
He thought about this and said, "No.''
The real opening night will take place later this month when the rival Celtics arrive to test the new marriage of Shaq and LeBron. In the meantime there were momentary images of what is to come. Occasionally the two stars would set up on the same side of the floor, with Shaq coming out to set a screen that sprung LeBron for a drive through the sparsely-defended paint.
"You can see that on a couple of LeBron's drives, where people are concerned with the spacing out there, that if you take your body off Shaq, LeBron's going to make the pass and it's going to be a dunk or a foul,'' Brown said.
"It's very tough to navigate through a screen by him,'' agreed James, "but at the same time we don't want him out on the floor too much. We want him in the interior where he's going to do a lot of his work.''
Another time a pass from LeBron was relayed by Shaq as if he were a 325-pound second baseman turning the double play; but power forward
"I don't think he's really used to that,'' said Shaq of his snap pass to Varejao. "I've been telling him all preseason, 'I might not be looking at you but I see you.' I take pride in trying to be one of the best passing big men in the game.''
"Andy definitely wasn't ready for that one,'' said James. "It was a good pass too.''