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Blatt: Brazil locale reduces pressure

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- It might be just a preseason game with inconsequential results, but real emotions are sure to be on display when LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers play the Miami Heat this weekend.

It will be the Cavs' second preseason game -- they routed Maccabi Tel-Aviv 107-80 on Sunday -- but their first against NBA competition. And it isn't just any NBA competition, of course.

James' old Big Three teammates, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, will be opponents while James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving form the league's new power trio.

Exactly three months to the day after James announced he was returning to Cleveland as a free agent, he will go up against those he left behind after winning two championships and making four trips to the NBA Finals in four years.

"I think everybody is very cognizant of the fact that LeBron is playing against his old team and playing against a team where he had such great success and they had such great success, and I'm sure they understand that it's a particular kind of game," Cavs coach David Blatt said Tuesday, shortly before the team left for its 10-hour chartered flight to Rio de Janeiro.

While Saturday's matchup (5 p.m. ET, ESPN) certainly has more juice behind it than a typical exhibition affair, Blatt said the game's location in Brazil away from Cavs fans, Heat fans and most major media outlets will take some of the edge off the meeting.

"I think it takes the pressure off of both sides, actually," Blatt said. "I really do."

James similarly downplayed the reunion when asked about it earlier this week.

"It's not much of an issue for me going up against Miami, I think," James said. "It's a preseason game. It's in Brazil so it's not really on an NBA floor, as well. But it gives us an opportunity to keep on continuing to broaden the game in a huge, worldwide aspect and it will be great for both teams."

Cavs center Anderson Varejao, a native of Brazil, knows all about basketball's international reach. Blatt said Varejao's return home might be more noteworthy than James facing the Heat.

"That's probably, because of the nature of the game, that's probably a bigger story, in all fairness," Blatt said. "We're excited for him. It means a lot to him, and if it means a lot to him, it means a lot to us."

Varejao said the trip will include plenty of team-building opportunities off the court, among them dinner at a Brazilian steakhouse. He also said the Cavs plan to sightsee, visiting the Christ the Redeemer statue and Sugarloaf Mountain.

"But we're going to have to take those, how do you call it? Cable cars? It's a little scary, but we will be fine," Varejao said.

Scary heights and all, Blatt has put his trust in Varejao to serve as the team's tour guide for the five-day trip.

"Andy is going to tell everybody what to do because he's the one who speaks the language and he knows his way around, so we're going to listen closely, carefully and ardently," Blatt said.

The coach didn't take Varejao's direction when it came to packing his bags to account for the time the Cavs will spend at Copacabana Beach, however.

"I, unlike the players, have decidedly wisely not to bring a Speedo," Blatt said.

Varejao was unsure whether he or James will receive louder cheers in his homeland. The 11-year veteran with the distinctive mop of curly hair said he's more recognized in the States than he is in Brazil.

"People know me there but not as much as here in Cleveland," Varejao said. "But I think this week they're going to know who I am. I'm coming with the Cavaliers."

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