RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Although the Miami Heat had been downplaying the game against LeBron James all along, coach Erik Spoelstra and Chris Bosh said Saturday that they were glad it was finally out of the way.
Spoelstra said there was “certainly a level of strangeness” in the preseason game in Rio de Janeiro, while Bosh said that he hopes now everybody can “move on.”
The Cleveland Cavaliers won 122-119 in overtime, with James scoring seven points and picking up eight assists in 20 minutes at the HSBC Arena.
It was the first time James played against the Heat since returning to Ohio after leading his former teammates to two NBA titles in four years.
“For me it was a special moment to be back there competing against my old teammates,” James said. “I didn’t get that awkward feeling, but a lot of memories came back about the things that we accomplished.”
James barely talked to his teammates before and during the game, though, doing his usual game routine.
“If you have to do something like this, I think it really benefits both teams to get the awkwardness out of the way in the preseason,” Spoelstra said. “There was certainly a level of strangeness to it.”
He said he didn’t think it really affected the way the teams approached their preparations, though.
“I think both teams also used this week just to concentrate on themselves,” Spoelstra said. “We have quite a bit of work to do to get our defense and our continuity offensively together. This was just another step, so in terms of game plan I don’t think either team spent a lot of time on that.”
James and Bosh quickly shook hands, but didn’t even seem to make eye contact before the game.
Bosh said it was “just normal routine stuff” to guard James, but he also thought it was good that the meeting is already in the past.
“I like the fact that we could get everything out of the way, that we could just come out here for the preseason and kind of just let everybody see us,” Bosh said. “We can move on.”
He said it was “tough” as usual to play against the former teammate, “but as far as him in another uniform and being on different teams, we are pretty much over that.”
“We are here to improve our team, to get better, and he is doing the same thing,” Bosh said. “I’m glad we could get that out of the way and move on.”
He acknowledged that it’s “going to be a work in progress” for the Heat to play without James.
“For the last four years, of course, it’s been a little easier with LeBron handling the ball,” Bosh said. “He made everybody’s lives easier.”
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