INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- After botching his first formal player introduction at Quicken Loans Arena and running onto the court perhaps three seconds late, Dwyane Wade was almost sheepish.
The 35-year-old veteran guard was playing a new position, small forward, in the absence of friend LeBron James. He was wearing No. 9 after being forced to switch from the No. 3 he held for his entire college and pro career, that number now taken by Isaiah Thomas.
Adding to the confusion was that the Cavaliers have two players from Marquette.
"I heard 'Starting at forward, from Marquette' and immediately I was like, 'Jae Crowder.' So I'm sitting there like 'Yeah, Jae,' and he's like, 'It's you,'?" Wade said.
Even Crowder was confused, at first thinking the announcer had called for Wade.
"I did, too, until I heard No. 9," Crowder said. "He forgot what number he was, I guess."
For the Cavs starters, which included three new players, that may have been the biggest hiccup in the Cavs' preseason opener. Even with James sidelined with a sore left ankle, the first team excelled, playing only the first half of a 109-93 loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
When that unit departed for the night, it had recorded 15 assists on 17 field goals and had built a 47-40 lead. Wade even started the game with a steal.
"You know, 35, first play I hit the ground. That was my welcome here," Wade said. "I think that's the mentality we're going to have, that it doesn't matter. You've got to do whatever it is asked of you. It did feel good to start off with a steal and get our offense going. We hit a 3 out of that, so it definitely felt great."
Derrick Rose, Wade and Crowder made their Cavs debuts -- not counting Monday's Wine and Gold Scrimmage -- and were still basking in the positives the next day.