The game and NBA season changed in the middle of the first quarter. What was supposed to be a fun and entertaining night of basketball turned when Gordon Hayward went down with a devastating ankle injury. The Celtics were obviously affected by the loss but made a game of it in the second half. Kyrie Irving, in his return to Cleveland, had a chance to tie the score but missed a three-point shot at the buzzer with LeBron James draped all over him.

Game MVP

The big question for the Cavs heading into the season opener was whether James would play on opening night?

An ankle injury limited him in the preseason, but throughout his career, he has been as durable. Some rust was expected, and James was "supposed" to be on a minutes restriction (41 minutes), but he put up his typical all-around, superstar numbers (29 points, 16 rebounds, and nine assists). It's going to be a year of ups and downs for the Cavs as they attempt to develop some chemistry, but James showed that he's still at the top of his game.

The rest of the starters

Dwyane Wade's appearance as a starter completely altered the Cavs lineup. It'll be interesting to see if Kevin Love moving to center will work long-term, but it wasn't a sterling performance by the Cavs (other than James). Neither Wade or Derrick Rose played particularly well (shot a combined 8-of-24), but both were on the floor for crunch time minutes.

Kevin Love (15 points and 11 rebounds) hit a huge three-pointer in the final minute of the game. But unlike last year, he wasn't hunting for shots on the perimeter. Whether that has something to do with the position change or not, he needs to show the aggressiveness of a second scoring option. Jae Crowder is going to fit in well with this Cavs team, and though his contributions may often go unnoticed, he displayed an attitude and toughness that all winning teams need.

The bench

One of the knocks on the Cavs since LeBron James made his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers was that anytime he went to the bench the play of the rest of the team dropped off dramatically. The first game of this season was no different. The Boston Celtics made their run at the end of the third quarter with James off the floor.

J.R. Smith (10 points) and Tristan Thompson (five points and six rebounds) both made strong contributions, but it was crickets after that. Iman Shumpert played some valuable fourth-quarter minutes, but while he hit a couple of buckets, he was taken out after a careless turnover and committed an awful foul late in the game.

Final thoughts

The matchup would have meant more had Isaiah Thomas played, but the Cavs will be fine until his return. Just remember that Kyrie Irving missed the beginning of the season two years ago, and this Cleveland squad is deeper and better than that one. More than anything, the Cavs need a healthy LeBron James, because he's still the best player in the world.