Cleveland opts to rest LeBron James against Indiana
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Cavaliers star LeBron James will sit out Wednesday night's game at Indiana to rest.
James, the four-time MVP and two-time champion, also sat out the final quarter of Tuesday night's blowout victory at Milwaukee and has playing some of his best basketball all season.
But coach Tyronn Lue said the Cavaliers track how many minutes each player logs and at this point in the season, any player in the ''red zone'' sits out. He said James is the only player currently under that restriction.
''It's the right game,'' Lue said during his pregame availability. ''We're on a back-to-back and we want to be cautious with him.''
James has averaged 27.1 points, 8.4 rebounds, 9.5 assists in his past eight games and is on pace for a record-breaking 12th consecutive season of averaging at least 25.0 points.
He also has been a thorn in the side of the Pacers, scoring at least 24 points in eight of the previous nine games against them.
The move also comes as the Cavs (56-22) are closing in on clinching the top seed in the Eastern Conference for the third time in franchise history. Cleveland entered Wednesday with a 3 1/2-game lead over Toronto with four games remaining on the Cavs schedule.
Toronto has five games left.
Could the absence hurt a team trying to build momentum heading into the postseason?
Lue said it won't.
Without James, though, the Cavs have struggled.
In the two seasons since he returned to Cleveland, the Cavs are just 4-13 without him.
Pacers coach Frank Vogel acknowledged his defensive game plan will change without James on the court, but that the Cavs still have enough ''firepower'' to win the game.
And Lue believes Cleveland has enough depth to pull off a win without James, against a team still fighting to get into the playoffs.
''I think our players are up for the challenge,'' Lue said. ''We've been playing some great basketball.''