Cavaliers resting LeBron James against Mavericks
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Cavaliers are using a pit stop at home to give LeBron James some rest.
The superstar will sit out Wednesday night’s game against Dallas, part of coach Tyronn Lue’s plans to give James some time off before the NBA playoffs begin next month.
Lue announced the decision not to play James about 90 minutes before the tipoff against the Mavericks. The Cavs are 0-2 without James this season and 3-12 when he doesn’t play over the past two seasons.
“We definitely have to speak about that tonight, just being professional, as always, and we got to start playing better when LeBron doesn’t play,” Lue said. “So, guys have to step up and be ready to play and take on this challenge.”
Lue chose to sit James following the team’s four-game road trip, which ended on Monday at Utah. The Cavs went 3-1 on the trip before traveling back to Cleveland on Tuesday. After hosting Dallas, the Cavs will visit Orlando and Miami later this week and Lue said he intends to play James in both games.
James sat out Cleveland’s Dec. 5 visit to South Florida and the Cavs were beaten 99-84 by the Heat, but the game wasn’t that close. James was on the bench on Feb. 28, when the Cavs fell behind at Washington by 30 points before losing by 14.
“I just thought giving him the three days now would be good instead of just resting him one game or one day on the back-to-back,” Lue explained.
James is averaging 24.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.5 assists. Iman Shumpert will start in place of James along with Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love.
Without James on the floor, Irving and Love will have to pick up the slack for Cleveland’s offense.
“With LeBron out you lose 25 points,” Lue said. “And everyone else has to step up and also be great offensively but we’re going to go through Kyrie and through Kevin and they have to produce for us.”
Cleveland has a two-game lead over Toronto for the best record in the Eastern Conference.