Maccabi faces old friend in game versus LeBron's Cavaliers

Tue Sep 23, 2014 3:05pm EDT
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By Steven Scheer

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - When the National Basketball Association's Cleveland Cavaliers take the court for their preseason opener next month it will be more than a ho-hum exhibition.

Not only will the Oct. 5 game mark the highly-anticipated return of LeBron James to a Cleveland team that are a favorite to win it all, but it is the first of nine preseason contests featuring a top international team as the Cavaliers will host reigning Euroleague champion Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Adding further spice to what would otherwise be a rather bland tip-off to the NBA's 2014-15 season, Maccabi went 225-55 over the last five seasons under the leadership of current Cavaliers head coach David Blatt.

"Hopefully, he will have some mercy," said Maccabi head coach Guy Goodes, who was Blatt's assistant the past four years. "If it gets to a 20-point gap, I hope he doesn't make it 40."

Players aren't so sure, given Blatt's nature to win.

"He is going to want to win and he is going to want to win big," said Maccabi forward Alex Tyus. "He wants to get the best out of his players."

Maccabi guard Sylven Landesberg agreed: "If we're getting at them a little bit, (Blatt) is going to push the tempo. But we're not afraid of it. We don't back down to anybody."

    Games between European and NBA teams are nothing new and serve as a win-win since they give the NBA added international exposure while European teams get to play against much tougher competition.   Continued...

NBA basketball player LeBron James of Cleveland Cavaliers plays with a basketball during a promotional event at a store in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, July 22, 2014. REUTERS/Alex Lee