Monday, March 8, 2010
Sore ankle sidelines LeBron
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James insists he's "good." The Cleveland Cavaliers don't want their superstar to play again until he's great.
James sat out his second consecutive game on Monday night against the San Antonio Spurs to rest a tender right ankle he twisted on Friday against Detroit. He missed Saturday's game in Milwaukee and the Cavs, who don't play again until Friday, are being extra cautious.
Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said in addition to having a bum ankle, James has some soreness in his back. However, it's nothing he couldn't play through, Brown said, and if this were the playoffs, James would be on the floor.
James did not take part in the morning's shootaround, opting to lift weights while his teammates went through preparations for the Spurs. As he left the building with a custom-designed Snuggie draped over his left shoulder, James was asked how he felt.
"I'm good," he said.
Earlier, Brown said it would be a game-time decision whether James would play, but it seemed both sides had agreed long before tip-off.
"This is an opportune time for him to get some rest," Brown said. "My gut feeling is that this is the right time for this to happen. He wants to play. He doesn't like sitting."
James was not available to reporters before the Cavs hosted the Spurs.
Cleveland is 0-7 in the past three seasons when James doesn't play.
"We miss a lot when he's not in there," Brown said. "He makes me look like I know how to coach a little bit better."
Brown said Cleveland's postseason seeding is not a factor in any decisions he makes about James, who is averaging 39 minutes per game. The Cavs have a five-game lead over Orlando for the best record in the Eastern Conference, and they hold a three-game advantage over the Los Angeles Lakers for the league's best mark, which would guarantee Cleveland home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
"If I was concerned about that, then I would've said, 'Tape that bad boy up against Milwaukee,'" Brown said. "He could play if it was a playoff game. With all the bumps and bruises he does have and the minutes he's logged ... I know he wouldn't say this, but his body has to be feeling the effects from playing all those minutes."
The Cavs can't survive long without James, but Brown is confident a few games won't hurt.
"This group is capable of winning games without him," he said.
Cleveland is still without center Shaquille O'Neal (thumb) but the Cavs got back guard Daniel Gibson, who missed four games after the birth of his first child.