It was a statement about continuity, being able to fill in missing pieces rather than starting from scratch.
It was, at times, humbling, harrowing and humiliating.
LeBron, Wade, Bosh and supposed dominance 80.
We can only imagine the ratings in Cleveland. Surely, as word got out, they all were witnesses.
The talk of 72-10 received a massive slap-down Tuesday night at the hands of the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. Yet, while 0-82 still is possible, perspective in the wake of the hype also is necessary.
If Pat Riley's message to the NBA this summer was that cap space buys happiness, then this paddling on parquet drove home the reality that the preseason is not nearly as inconsequential as the Miami Heat led us to believe.
Entering Tuesday night, Dwyane Wade had played a grand total of three-plus minutes with LeBron James and Chris Bosh during the preseason because a strained right hamstring. It showed Tuesday, both in Wade's 1-of-8 shooting start and a Heat first quarter the produced all of nine points.
It is not that coach Erik Spoelstra did not have his team ready. It's that Spoelstra did not have his total team until a couple of practices this past weekend. (And, no, Riley is not on this trip, so there will be no coaching change Wednesday in Philadelphia.)
For the Heat, it was LeBron back in Cleveland, trying to self-will victory when there weren't many other working parts.
And yet, no sooner was it over than Celtics coach Doc Rivers warned not to sleep on Micky Arison's deep-pockets creation.
"They'll be so much better," Rivers said. "They are going to be a lot better when we see them again."
Actually, the Heat were the better team from the middle stages of the second quarter on.
"You could see that they haven't necessarily got their whole chemistry thing down, but they will," Celtics forward Kevin Garnett said. "In order for them to get better, they're going to have to go through rough days."
This certainly was one of them.
"What I told the team was there is going to be a process with this," Spoelstra said. "We have our own timetable and we knew this wasn't going to be easy. The first half was an indication of that."
This is about a roster not nearly as complete as what Boston arrived with, even with Kendrick Perkins sidelined by the knee injury sustained in last season's NBA finals and Delonte West out for a 10-game, poor-judgment suspension. This is about a team that exposed a two-fifths deficit that won't be solved without personnel adjustments.
Carlos Arroyo, the only healthy true point guard on the Heat roster, started but played only 12 minutes. No matter, by then Boston's Rajon Rondo was off to the races on what would turn into a 17-assist night.
Joel Anthony, a center of first choice on this roster, but in reality of last resort, played just 17 minutes, just enough time for Shaquille O'Neal to display a bit of pep in his step.
Free agent Erick Dampier very well may be on speed dial at this very moment.
But this never was about Arroyo or Anthony or anyone else in this B-list supporting cast. It was about James, Wade and Bosh proving so dominant that there would be no burden of proof on teammates.
And that will take time, because something like this simply has not been tested on this scale, at least in the NBA.
To James, it conjured memories of his initial USA Basketball practices, when his Olympic teammates were so talented that the natural reaction was to defer.
Tuesday, even after scoring 31 points, the most ever by a player in his Heat debut and one off Tim Hardaway's franchise opening-night record, James felt talents weren't being maximized.
"It's a feel-out process," he said. "When you have so many options, it's something I'm not accustomed to, having that many threats out on the court at the same time.
"It kind of reminded me, at times, throughout the USA practices, coach [Mike Krzyzewski] really had to get on us, because we were being too unselfish, because we had so many options."
Erik Spoelstra, of course, is no Coach K, at least right now. And while Wade and Bosh are formidable teammates, that's where any resemblance to a Dream Team ends.
Against the 76ers on Wednesday night, the Heat likely will have enough. Spencer Hawes and Jason Kapono hardly conjure images of Garnett and Pierce.
But against the elite, this work in progress will have to make considerable progress.
"We knew this would be a little bit of a process," Spoelstra said. "This was the first step."
The next step is continuity.
Tuesday night, continuity wore green and white.
PBT: LeBron James created self-imposed pressure to win "not two, not three, not four" titles. Thus, should the Heat's title chase fail, it's his legacy that will take the hit.
PBT: All season long, the Heat have largely coasted, only turning up their intensity when facing elimination. That won't be good enough in Game 6 tonight.
King James' rise to power
Follow LeBron James from young stardom to NBA greatness.
Video: NBA from NBC Sports
Bosh: 'We'll see who hits first'
Heat forward Chris Bosh talks about what could be a very physical Game 6 stating, 'hit them in the mouth, throat and their eyes'. Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra says the opposing Spurs 'attack you.. but we do the same thing'.
Latest from ProBasketballTalk
Get your NBA cheer on
Check out some of the dancers from the NBA.