With just about a week until the Cleveland Cavaliers begin the regular season against the Boston Celtics, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue named Dwyane Wade his fifth and final starter for opening night. Wade, a 12-time All-Star and three-time champion, will replace JR Smith at shooting guard.
Wade will join a starting lineup of Derrick Rose at point guard, LeBron James at small forward, Jae Crowder at the 4 and Kevin Love at the 5 as the Cavs start their campaign hoping to avenge a loss to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals in June.
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James, sidelined since the second day of training camp with a sprained left ankle, will join the rest of the starters back on the court for the Cavs’ final two preseason games Tuesday against the Chicago Bulls and Friday against the Orlando Magic to practice the lineup before the curtain comes up on the season and they have to face Kyrie Irving and the Celtics.
Wade’s role, of course, will reunite him with James in the starting lineup. The last time they linked up in that fashion, the pair made it to four straight Finals and won two championships with the Miami Heat. Wade averaged 18.3 points per game last season, but shot a career-low 43.4 percent from the field and missed 22 games because of injury.
Health is a major question mark for Cleveland. And not just because of Wade. If Isaiah Thomas can come back fully healthy from the torn labrum in his right hip that has sidelined him the last five months, then Rose and Wade become complimentary pieces. If Thomas doesn’t return to form, however, Rose and Wade become necessary pieces. And how much is too much to ask from Wade and Rose at this point, both on the Cavs thanks to veteran minimum contracts worth about $2 million apiece?