Facing a top European club like CSKA Moscow wouldn't ordinarily seem like a major deal for the Miami Heat.
That is, unless they lose.
Chris Bosh knows. He was on the Toronto Raptors in October 2005 when they were beaten, at home, in an exhibition by Israeli power Maccabi Tel Aviv. Suffice to say, five years later, Bosh hasn't forgotten that night — and that's one of the reasons why he expects the Heat will take Tuesday night's matchup against the Russian club very seriously.
"Just to be honest, nobody wants to lose to a team from Europe — no offense to any of the European teams, especially at home," Bosh said. "I've lost to a team from Europe and it wasn't too good in the media the day after. So we don't want that feeling here. At the end of the day, it's a ballgame. Every time we step on the court, we want to win."
CSKA Moscow lost in the Euroleague semifinals last season to Regal FC Barcelona 64-54. And yes, that's the Barcelona team that beat the Los Angeles Lakers in an exhibition at Spain last week.
"We all know that Barcelona defeated the Lakers at home last week, but I think that you should not draw any comparisons from that," CSKA Moscow's Sergey Bykov wrote on his blog. "We are in a different situation, but I can tell you for sure that we will do our best to defend the pride of one of Europe's best teams."
The Russian team has a few names American basketball fans will almost surely recognize.
Former Duke star Trajan Langdon is on the club, as is Sasha Kaun, who teamed with Mario Chalmers on Kansas' 2008 NCAA title team, and J.R. Holden, the former Bucknell guard who holds dual Russian and American citizenship.
And there's Ramunas Siskauskas — one of Europe's best players for a decade and best-known, perhaps, for missing two of three free throws against the United States in the final minute of the semifinals of the 2000 Sydney Olympics in a game where the Americans held on for an 85-83 win.
LeBron James might remember Siskauskas well: He was on the Lithuanian Olympic team again in 2004, when it beat the Americans in group play. The U.S. wound up leaving those Athens Games with bronze, after winning a rematch against Lithuania.
"I think I would know a lot more of the guys than some of the guys here, because I've played international basketball for the last five years," James said. "So I think I would know a few of them."
James said Tuesday is simply another opportunity for the Heat to get better, even though Dwyane Wade (sore right hamstring) will sit out once again. The Heat also play in New Orleans on Wednesday, so there will likely be some rotation-scrambling by Miami coach Erik Spoelstra.
"Let's focus on us, our system, and building some familiarity and continuity," Spoelstra said, when asked what the approach will be against a team that is largely a mystery to the Heat. "It'll be a great opportunity for us to take a step forward."
Later on its American swing, CSKA will face Oklahoma City and Cleveland.
"We have one advantage," Bykov wrote. "They know much less about us than we know about them."
Notes: The Heat got their roster down to 18 on Monday, waiving Anthony Mason Jr. and Mickell Gladness. ... Wade, Carlos Arroyo and Jamaal Magloire did not practice Monday. ... There is no update yet on a possible return date for Wade, whose hamstring is expected to be re-examined by Wednesday. ... Wade and Bosh were among those at Alonzo Mourning's home Monday afternoon for a fundraiser headlined by President Barack Obama. The president was in South Florida helping raise money for U.S. Rep. Ron Klein's re-election campaign.