April 10, 2017

MIAMI (AP) LeBron James is either resting or ailing.

Either way, he wasn't playing on Monday - with the Cleveland Cavaliers looking at a much bigger picture than his potential impact on the final stretch of the race for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

James and Kyrie Irving were both held out of Cleveland's game at the Miami Heat. James was listed as having a right calf strain, and Irving has soreness in his surgically repaired left knee. Both are expected to play when the Cavaliers open their playoff run this weekend, and whether either plays in Wednesday's regular-season finale is undecided.

''The most important thing for us is getting those guys some rest,'' Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said. ''They've been carrying the load all season. ... It's just the right thing to do. For us going forward, if we're going to make a long run and deep into these playoffs, those guys being healthy is the most important thing.''

James averaged more than 43 minutes of playing time in Cleveland's most recent five games entering Monday, well above his season norm. He played 47 minutes in Sunday's overtime loss at Atlanta, one where the Cavaliers led by 26 going into the final quarter of regulation.

Cleveland entered Monday tied with Boston for the best record in the East.

''Whether we're the 1 seed or the 2 seed, it's going to be tough this year,'' Lue said. ''We know that. Whether it's first seed or second seed, it's going to be a tough uphill battle for us. If we get our rest and we're healthy going into the playoffs, I like exactly who we are and what we can do. That's what's most important to me right now.''

Cleveland was also without Tristan Thompson (thumb) on Monday. The Cavaliers did get a boost when Kevin Love, who missed the team's walkthrough earlier in the day with an illness, decided he was able to play against the Heat.

Since James left Miami and returned to Cleveland, the Cavaliers took a 4-21 record - including 0-6 this season - when he's not in the lineup going into Monday.

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