James' third absence of the season comes a day after he scored 43 points in 42 minutes during the Heat's 100-96 victory in Cleveland on Tuesday. James had been dealing with varying levels of soreness in his back throughout the season, but the latest episode didn't appear to be serious.
The Heat are playing a stretch of four games over five nights and have tweaked their lineup and rotations to give certain key players rest in recent games. Heat guard Dwyane Wade, who didn't play Tuesday in Cleveland to rest his sore right knee, was back in the lineup Wednesday against Boston. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra also gave center Greg Oden the night off against the Celtics to rest his knees after he started against the Cavaliers.
The Heat have won both their previous games James has missed, beating Portland on Dec. 28 when he sat out with a strained groin and also winning at home against Chicago on Feb. 23 as James sat out to recover from a broken nose.
James is averaging 27 points, 6.9 rebounds and 6.4 assists this season. During his pregame session with reporters before Wednesday's game, James said the most important thing at this point in the season is for the Heat to do whatever it takes to enter the playoffs as healthy as possible.
"Obviously, none of us is going to be 100 percent going into the playoffs," James said. "But it is what it is. That's the team we are. We've played a lot of basketball over the last four years. Guys have to be smart about certain situations and understand that if they can go, then go. But right now, we would rather go into the playoffs with 15 guys (full roster) instead of 13 or 12."